HARD-EARNED GAME 1 WIN FOR SAN MIG COFFEE

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San Mig Coffee hardly lacked energy and enthusiasm playing a third game in five nights, outlasting Meralco, 83-73, in a hard-fought, blue-collar battle in Game One of their PBA Governors’ Cup Final Four showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.

The Mixers actually came out a little flat but hung on before coming through with a key run in an opportune time, thus, drawing first blood in the best-of-five semis series.

“It was a great defensive battle. They’re undersized but quick and had a good scheme that was very disruptive early in the basketball game,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.

“We didn’t do well but we hung around. We battled until we found some open lanes. Our defense created transition baskets in the fourth,” Cone added.

“As expected we had a hard time scoring tonight. But this is a series. Nobody wins a best-of-five series without winning three games,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.

Marcus Blakely more than held his own against Mario West in a gripping contest, and Joe Devance, Mark Barroca and Marc Pingris worked on a decisive punch at endgame jarring the fierce-fighting Bolts.

Pingris intercepted a Meralco throw-in and parlayed it to a thunderous breakaway jam capping a nine-to-zero tear giving the Mixers a 79-69 lead in the last two minutes of game.

In the next play, Blakely swatted away a layup by West as San Mig settled the outcome of the game, frustrating the Bolts in their first Final Four contest.

Gregorio promised they would come out stronger in Game Two set at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday night in the same venue.

The youthful mentor, however, also said they would need to help their import get points if they’re to get even in the next game.

Blakely outperformed West in the series opener, coming through with 15 points and 10 rebounds as against his rival’s mere nine markers (PBA career low) and 10 boards.

“It’s a great defensive battle. The series isn’t going to be pretty. It’s gonna be a series of attrition,” Cone said.

Blakely and West best typified it.

The Mixers held West scoreless in the fourth period and went to Devance, Barroca and Pingris for the big points at endgame.

Devance top scored for San Mig with 17 points while Barroca and Pingris combined for 15 with seven in the payoff period.

The Bolts took the half at 38-35 and got away with run of their own in the third, giving them their own 10-point spread at 50-40.

The Mixers, however, kept the Bolts from gaining more headway, and spurted ahead at 57-55 at the end of the third. (SB)

The scores:

San Mig Coffee 83 – Devance 17, Blakely 15, Yap 15, Mallari 12, Pingris 8, Barroca 7, Simon 7, Reavis 2, Acuna 0, Najorda 0.

Meralco 73 – Hodge 19, Cortez 12, Wilson 10, West 9, Reyes 6, Cardona 6, Hugnatan 6, Dillinger 2, Salvacion 2, Ross 1.

Quarters: 18-22, 35-38, 57-55, 83-73

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