San Mig Coffee, Air21 knock each other out | Inquirer Sports

San Mig Coffee, Air21 knock each other out

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 12:14 AM May 07, 2014

WESLEY Witherspoon and Asi Taulava exemplify Air21’s offensive spunk against San Mig Coffee in Monday’s Game 4. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / NUKI SABIO

MANILA, Philippines — With momentum on its side, Air21 battles San Mig Coffee Wednesday looking for that final escape act that would put the Express in unchartered but heady territory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

After an authoritative 94-91 Game 4 win Monday night, the Express have all the confidence they need going into their fourth knockout match and a win will put them in a title series for the first time in their PBA existence.


The do-or-die game is set at 8 p.m. at Smart Araneta Coliseum. The burden of adjustment falls on the shoulders of the Mixers, who trailed by a many as 17 points in their most lopsided defeat of these playoffs.


Air21 coach Franz Pumaren’s floating zone befuddled the Mixers early, and Wesley Witherspoon was on target all night as the Express dealt San Mig a beating.

The Express have gotten this far by hurdling their first three KO matches—the first two against No. 2 seed San Miguel Beer—and would be the ones playing with lesser pressure. No one expected them to be here in the first place.

“This is a new thing for some of my players,” Pumaren said.

“San Mig has been in this situation many times before. We will just have to stay aggressive.”

And the reedy Witherspoon was the biggest headache for San Mig coach Tim Cone in Game 4.

“I have been very hard on him the past few days,” Pumaren said. “[On Monday night], he showed his talent, his true character.”


San Mig failed to wrap it up Monday because the Express did not fold up in the battle for the rebounds, unlike in Game 3 where import James Mays outrebounded the entire Air21 crew by six.

Mays had to work hard after the Express gang-rebounded for a change, as Asi Taulava pulled down 14 boards while tossing in 12 points and providing the inspiration for the rest of the team.

There is a lot at stake for the Mixers in this game, as a loss would put an end to a streak of two championships and snuff out their aspirations of holding all three PBA titles at the same time.

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James Yap and Peter June Simon, if the Express again play with that zone, should be able to hit their shots and open up the Air21 defense to give Mays and Marc Pingris the room to maneuver inside.

TAGS: Air21 Express, Commissioner's Cup, Franz Pumaren, James Mays, James Yap, PBA, PJ Simon, San Mig Coffee Mixers, Semifinals, Tim Cone, Wesley Witherspoon

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