San Mig Coffee rips Air21, sets up finals date with TNT
MANILA, Philippines— San Mig Coffee took the life out of Air21 early on its way to a 99-83 beatdown and a finals date with unbeaten rival Talk ‘N Text in the 2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers, champions in the last two conferences, start their bid for a third straight championship on Friday in Game 1 of a best-of-five title duel against a well-rested and a well-oiled machine in the Tropang Texters also at the Big Dome.
“Our guys came to play. You could see it all the way through. James (Yap) and PJ (Simon) came out firing,” San Mig Coffee head coach Tim Cone told reporters. “It was just one of those nights that we were on and hitting our shots. Everything clicked for us tonight.”
Import James Mays scored 24 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, PJ Simon had 18 points and James Yap added 15 for the Mixers. Simon and Yap set the tone for their team in the first half with 11 points each in the first two quarters.
San Mig Coffee, behind Mays and veteran swingmen Simon and James Yap, ran away in the second quarter with an 11-0 run to lead, 50-33, at halftime.
The Mixers were far from done in the second half where they led by as much as 25 points, 71-46, on a three-point play by Joe Devance with 4:25 left in the third quarter.
Air21, which played minus its starting forward Sean Anthony for the second straight game due to a foot injury, showed signs of life and was able to pull to within 17 before Simon scored on a drive and Mark Barroca followed it up with a corner 3-pointer as San Mig Coffee’s buffer grew back to 23, 89-66, with 7:37 remaining.
The clock finally struck midnight on this conference’s Cinderella team as the Express, who overcame a twice-to-beat disadvantage against the San Miguel Beermen in the quarterfinals before managing to force a do-or-die game in the semifinals, just couldn’t summon enough strength to go toe-to-toe with the battle-worn Mixers.
“This team (Air21) has played so well I know it’s a big disappointment for them but they have played so well throughout the whole conference. Nobody thought they would be here,” said Cone.
“A lot of people thought we would run right over them we knew we weren’t going to be able to do that,” Cone added.
High-scoring import Wesley Witherspoon was held to just 21 points two nights after lighting up the Mixers with 32 points on eight made triples. Witherspoon shot just six-of-15 from the field after missing only six out of his 14 attempts from downtown last Monday.