San Mig mixes big Game 7 clincher
PLAYING with so much heart and with a recent national team hero leading the way, San Mig Coffee gutted out a Game 7 performance to remember to complete their rise to the top in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Marc Pingris, who personified what heart is all about with Gilas Pilipinas a couple of months back, performed the same job for the Mixers in an 87-77 scuttling of Petron Blaze before 21,319 fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Finishing with 19 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks and a lot of the intangibles that don’t reflect in the stats sheets, Pingris was the key why the Mixers were able to wriggle free from a tight contest and write a fairy-tale ending to their campaign, one that started in rocky fashion last August.
The 6-foot-5 workhorse was the unanimous choice of the PBA Press Corps as the Papa John’s Pizza-Finals MVP, an award the sea of humanity at the Big Dome began chanting for him even with still three minutes remaining.
Pingris went on to average 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, three assists and 1.5 blocks in the series, tucking away his second Finals MVP after winning his first in the 2006 Philippine Cup Finals against Alaska.
The game had all the trimmings of a classic rubber match, with no team leading by more than four until Petron opened up a 53-48 lead late in the third period.
And that was when the Mixers’ Game 7 experience and resiliency bloomed as they dropped a 9-0 bomb to ease out front, 57-53, with 2:37 left in the third. They never trailed again.
Yancy De Ocampo was another big performer for the Mixers even though he scored just two points. He spent all of his 21 minutes on the floor shackling the 6-foot-9 June Mar Fajardo.
A fagged-out Fajardo missed four straight free throws and the Boosters, as a team, missed eight free throws in the first 10 minutes of the fourth period.
Marqus Blakely awoke from a cold start and finished strong, hitting two critical layups inside the final two minutes that helped seal the outcome. It was also Blakely’s two-handed slam off a De Ocampo pass that gave San Mig a 78-71 lead with 4:27 left.
“He did all the work,” San Mig coach Tim Cone said of Pingris, who broke down while taking free throws at the final 46.8-second mark which made it 83-77.
Cone, incidentally, tied the legendary Baby Dalupan with most titles won in a career with 15, and the outspoken American had just one wish after steering the Mixers through.
“I wish he was here,” Cone said. “I wish I could have given him (Dalupan) a hug.”
The 39th Season opens Nov. 17 with the Philippine Cup, which Talk ‘N Text will try to win for an unprecedented fourth straight year.
Blakely, named Best Import last week, was held scoreless in the first quarter, although the Mixers were still able to hold the Boosters to a 19-all tie. Curiously, in the first six games, the team that won the first quarter had gone on to win the game.
SAN MIG COFFEE 87—Blakely 19, Pingris 19, Simon 16, Devance 11, Barroca 10, Yap 8, Mallari 2, De Ocampo 2.
PETRON 77—Millsap 25, Fajardo 20, Lassiter 11, Cabagnot 8, Santos 7, Lutz 4, Kramer 2, Deutchman 0, Tubid 0.
Quarters: 19-19, 41-39, 65-61, 87-77