The Express recorded a second three-game streak in franchise history, sustaining their progress with an 87-82 win over the Mixers in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
“We have to give it to our players. They really played well. They played smart especially as San Mig made a run,” said coach Franz Pumaren as his troops roared on, tying the Mixers at sixth place at 4-5.
“I’m so elated beating a team like San Mig Coffee and a coach like coach Tim (Cone). We’re playing tough defense and, for the second straight game, we held a topnotch team below their average,” Pumaren also said.
The Express held the Mixers to 31 points in the first half then held their ground in a shootout at the finish, enabling the team to pull a first one over San Mig Coffee in seven matches.
Rain or Shine and Meralco are the only teams Air21 hasn’t beaten in franchise history.
Michael Dunigan more than held his own against reigning Best Import Denzel Bowles, coming through with 25 points and 20 rebounds in 41 minutes of action. The San Mig reinforcement, on the other hand, collected 24 markers and 12 boards
The Air21 locals also stood their ground against their San Mig counterparts with KG Canaleta, Wynne Arboleda and Mark Isip helping big time with their crucial plays in the fourth quarter.
Canaleta scored on a turnaround jumper then made two charities while Arboleda hit three straight baskets as the Express cut loose from a close 73-68 count.
Gunigan and Mike Cortez teamed up early on as the Express enjoyed a pair of 13-point spreads at 59-46 and 61-48 in the third quarter.
The Mixers, however, charged back, 62-65, on the exploits of Bowles, PJ Simon and Mark Barroca.
Bowles and Simon fired 24 and 20, respectively, with Barroca adding 10, including seven in the payoff period.
James Yap struggled with a 6-of-19 field shooting, obviously affected by the latest woe in his private life.
Earlier in the day, he appeared on a court hearing with regards Kris Aquino’s petition for a temporary protection order (TPO) against her former husband.
Aquino accused Yap of overstepping his boundaries and of attempting to seduce her while visiting her home, and of inflicting psychological harm on their son James, or “Bimby.” (SB)