PETRON Blaze and San Mig Coffee break their 1-1 tie in the PBA Governors’ Cup title playoffs today, with the Mixers, after dealing the Boosters their worst loss of the season and unmasking all their weaknesses, installed as the slight picks at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Tip-off time is 8 p.m. with the Mixers shooting for a follow-up to a 100-93 Game 2 victory where they made the Boosters play from behind most of the night to eventually strip the cloak of invincibility Petron wore in a dominating run in the elimination round.
San Mig led by twin digits for most of the night on Sunday and drew level in basketball and psychological terms.
Going into Game 2, Petron had won their first two clashes, the first coming via an 89-83 decision in the eliminations and the second a 100-84 series-opening win Friday last week where the Boosters showed the powerhouse stuff they are made off.
Petron dropped 41 points in the fourth quarter in Game 1, making coach Tim Cone say that: “After that fourth quarter of Game 1, I began to think that this (Petron) team wasn’t going to lose.”
But after motivating his players in a big way, it seems that San Mig has, at the very least, momentum on its side.
“They (Boosters) got frustrated, which is exactly what happened to us in Game 1,” said Cone.
“It’s good that we were able to come out and dictate the tempo,” Cone added. “That team doesn’t fall behind too often. I wanted to see them react to playing from behind.”
This game carries a lot of importance, considering how the teams seem so evenly matched that a head-start in a series that has been pruned down to a best-of-five could prove handy in the long run.
Marqus Blakely will continue to lead the Mixers, the runners-up here to Rain or Shine last season. And Cone hopes to get another big game from former two-time MVP James Yap.
Yap, who has been on an offensive funk the entire tournament, scattered nine of his 17 Game 2 points in the first quarter to help get the San Mig offense on track early.
Petron, meanwhile, will be spearheaded by import Elijah Millsap and 6-foot-9 rookie June Mar Fajardo.
One of the reasons Petron has been great the entire conference is that the two get a lot of firepower from their teammates. And that is what coach Gee Abanilla wants the team to regain. Millsap scored 31 points and Fajardo 16 in Game 2, but guys like Chris Lutz and Marcio Lassiter struggled, giving San Mig the chance to bottle the two up.
San Mig will also have one less superstar to deal with as Alex Cabagnot will sit out tonight’s game because of a foot injury sustained in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. He scored 22 points that night.