Simon nails winning putback to lift B-Meg to the finals, past GinebraBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines – Peter June Simon turned a missed attempt to gold with 2.5 seconds left as B-Meg edged Ginebra, 74-72, for that last finals berth Friday night in the 2012 PBA Governor’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Simon nailed a putback off a miss by import Marcus Blakley, which shattered the deadlock and gave the Llamados, who are back in the finals for the second time this conference, the final lead of the game.
“It’s always so gratifying to beat such a tough opponent in a knockout game like this. It makes the win all that much sweeter,” said head coach Tim Cone.
The best-of-seven finals start on Sunday between B-Meg and Rain or Shine, who actually defeated the former last Wednesday to clinch an outright slot to the finale.
Blakely paced B-Meg in a taut affair with 22 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and five blocks, while Simon, whose final basket was his only two points in the fourth, finished with 11 points and five boards.
James Yap, likewise, played tremendous for B-Meg with 16 points – four in the payoff period, when the match was being played like a chess match.
The Llamados pounced on a crucial miss from the outside by Kerby Raymundo with 16.9 seconds left, and ultimately denied the Gin Kings a trip to the finals.
Ginebra, with another heartbreaking ending to its season, also was unable to make the needed defensive stops after Niño Canaleta’s huge trying triple and to box out on B-Meg’s final play.
Import Cedric Bozeman churned out 27 points and 11 boards, but wasn’t able to contribute in the Gin Kings’ final possesions.
It was Canaleta who made the big shots – carrying the cudgels in lieu of a hardluck Mark Caguioa – by scoring all but one of Ginebra’s final nine points.
Caguioa, who needed a finals trip to bolster his chances of winning the Most Valuable Player award, struggled with just 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting.