MANILA, Philippines—For the most part, Alaska had Denzel Bowles figured out as its relentless defense held Bowles to just six points heading into the final minute of the game.
Unfortunately for the Aces, Bowles only needed a minute to redeem himself and San Mig Coffee to a 71-69 squeaker over the Aces in Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinals series Saturday night.
“They had a game plan for me. The shots I took were really bad shots because I was forcing it, trying to get a shot,” Bowles, whose 12 points was his lowest output this conference, told INQUIRER.net. “They zoned up on me so it was hard for me to dribble and they collapsed.”
“So the last couple of minutes, I got going and when it was tied, I wanted to get the ball at the elbow so that was a designed play,” added Bowles, referring to the Mixers’ final possessions of the game.
Bowles shot just two-of-11 from the floor before making his last three baskets—including his last two jumpers in the final 36 seconds of the game despite the Aces’ defense draped all over him.
“Those last three shots, what do you do? What do you do defensively? He’s six-foot-10 and fading away, taking a jump shot 18, 20 feet away and swishing them,” marveled San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone.
“They had a brilliant game plan coming in and they really stymied our offense. We couldn’t get the ball to Denzel except the last three possessions, he made… just made those difficult shots,” added Cone. “I’ve said this before, Denzel is a big-game game. He knows how to step up in big moments. He just has that instinct and it’s kind of special and he’s been special for us.”
Bowles had just five points in three quarters but his horrible shooting hardly bothered him as the game wore on. “I just kept shooting and just played defense.”