SUPER SUB & SUPER BOWLES TO THE RESCUE AS MIXERS CLINCH Q’FINALS BERTH
PJ SIMON caught fire when needed most and Denzel Bowles was his usual steady self, enabling San Mig Coffee to overcome a rare scoreless night from James Yap and a tough Air21 side to win, 80-66, Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Bowles had a game-high 29 points on top of 16 rebounds while Simon scored all his 12 points in the second half in leading the Mixers to a second straight victory and a 7-6 win-loss record overall that formally assured their entry to the next round.
“It was a good effort,” said San Mig head coach Tim Cone, visibly more satisfied with their latest victory than an 83-82 squeaker over Talk ‘N Text last week.
“If there is a time to play good basketball, this is the time to play it, going to the playoffs.”
What makes the win, which put the defending champion over .500 for the first time in the conference, more satisfying is the fact it was fashioned despite Yap going scoreless for what is widely believed to be only the third time in his pro career.
“James was sick the whole week. He tried to practice with us for the first time yesterday, but it was plain he was still too weak,” related Cone of the two-time MVP who came off the bench, saw action for 14 minutes and missed all his six field goal tries.
“He’s showing us a lot of courage,” added Cone. “He could have said, ‘Coach, I’ll sit out this one,’ but he didn’t.”
Marc Pingris also did his part with 14 points and as many boards while playing sterling defense on Air21’s Nino Canaleta before re-spraining his right ankle and leaving the game for good, still 8:26 left.
Both Yap and Pingris are expected to play when San Mig closes out its eliminations assignments against Meralco Saturday.
“Let’s see if we can put one more (good effort) against Meralco for us to have momentum for the playoffs,” said Cone.
Meantime, there’s time to appreciate and savor Simon’s latest explosion, much like what he did against TNT.
“When you don’t have James available it’s nice to have a PJ out there,” noted Cone. “PJ played a wonderful game, along with Denzel.”
The loss was Air21’s eighth in 13 games, leaving it hoping for a win over Petron Blaze on Saturday and that 4-7 Barako Bull loses its last two games against Rain or Shine and Globalport to make it as the eighth and last playoffs entry.
Scoring only three points when ranged against Pingris but reducing all other defenders to shreds, Canaleta wound up with 26 points to lead the Express after Michael Dunigan was held to only 18 points.
With Pingris and Bowles going great guns early San Mig was in control for majority of the game but it was Simon’s timely baskets that fully plucked the Mixers from a 54-45 count and into as much as a 68-50 lead. (NC)
San Mig Coffee 80 – Bowles 29, Pingris 14, Simon 12, Barroca 9, Devance 7, Gaco 6, Mallari 2, de Ocampo 1, Najorda 0, Yap 0, Gonzales 0, Reavis 0.
Air21 66 – Canaleta 26, Dunigan 18, Isip 10, Omolon 4, Menor 2, Custodio 2, Cortez 2, Arboleda 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Wiklson 0, Baclao 0, Ritualo 0.
Quarterscores: 20-16; 39-29; 60-45; 80-66
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