MANILA, Philippines–Denzel Bowles shook off his slump just in time to lift San Mig Coffee over Alaska, 71-69, to take a 1-0 lead in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Saturday night.
Bowles, who only had five points in the first three quarters, accounted for the Mixers’ final eight points in the final one minute, 23 seconds of the game–including three baskets with the Aces’ defense all over him.
“Those last three shots, what do you do? He’s six-foot-10 and fading away,” said San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone.
“It was a magnificent battle. A lot of heart display by both teams. They had a good game plan coming in. He (Bowles) just made really difficult shots. He’s a big game guy. Through all this it’s just one game.”
Calvin Abueva tied the game on the Aces’ fourth crack at the basket with only 22.6 seconds remaining before Bowles’ game-winning jumper came with just 6.8 ticks left.
Alaska had the final shot but JVee Casio, who put his team ahead, 67-65, on a cold-blooded three at the 1:23 mark of the payoff period, got denied by Joe Devance as time ran out.
Bowles was just two-of-11 from the floor before making his final three attempts.
Alaska led by one before Marc Pingris cut and scored inside off a nice pass by Bowles that gave the Mixers a 65-64 edge with 1:35 remaining.
Both squads got off to a slow start before their offense picked up in the third quarter as both teams surpassed their combined output in the first two quarters of play.
San Mig Coffee shot just 23.7percent from the field while the Aces weren’t any better at 26.5 percent with both able to make just nine field goals a piece in a low-scoring affair.
James Yap added 10 points and eight rebounds while still playing with a sore lower back.