MANILA, Philippines – San Mig Coffee withstood a late run by Petron Blaze to fashion out a 90-84 win Sunday night in the 38th PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
James Yap knocked in 18 points while PJ Simon added 17 points for the Mixers, who squandered an 18-point lead before grinding out the win.
“I think everybody got a glimpse of what June Mar (Fajardo) can do. He did a lot out there, his energy brought them back,” said San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone.
June Mar Fajardo, the first overall pick, came alive in the final frame scoring 10 of his 16 points to fuel the Boosters comeback.
“We shouldn’t have let them get back that close,” added Cone. “In the second half we lost energy. Joseph Yeo and June Mar showed a lot of energy. We got to close out games better.”
PJ Simon appeared to have sealed the game after hitting a momentum-swinging three that stretched the Mixers’ lead to seven, 87-80, with 1:31 left.
But Petron recovered after forcing back-to-back turnovers that led to conversions to make it a one-possession game, 84-87, on a putback by Joseph Yeo with 23 ticks remaining.
Rafi Reavis though came through with an all-important free throw, 88-84, before a Yancy de Ocampo block on a three-point attempt by Jay Washington which led to a breakaway layup by Yap finally put the game to bed.
“No doubt Petron’s going to get better. I’m glad we got rid of them early. They’ll be scary in the playoffs,” said Cone.
“This year we’ve added a lot in our offense which makes us a little unpredictable. We’re moving the ball a lot better,” Cone added.
The Mixers, who notched their second win in as many stints, had a total of 21 assists.
“We have a lot of improving to do. Joe’s trying to regain his athleticism and hopefully JC can comeback soon. I think we can improve from there.”
De Ocampo also came up big for San Mig Coffee particularly in the third quarter, where he scored eight of his 14 points, including a jumper that put his team up 18, 49-31, in the final minute of the second period.
Marc Pingris sprained his right ankle at the 4:39 mark of the fourth period and did not return.
Despite the loss of the dynamic big man, the Mixers maintained their defensive intensity that helped to keep the Boosters at bay.
Arwind Santos led Petron, which dropped its second game in three outings, with 18 points but most of his output came in the first half.
Fajardo also hauled down 13 rebounds.