Playing without the services of their second leading scorer this conference in PJ Simon and their main man in big games in James Yap for most of the 4th quarter because of a foot injury, the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers still managed to eke out an overtime win against the number 1 team in the 2014 PBA Governor’s Cup eliminations, the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters, to take a 1-0 lead in this best-of-five semifinals affair.
It was a seesaw battle for most of the game until the Tropang Texters pulled away early in the 4th quarter.However, Marqus Blakely and the rest of the Mixers clawed their way back into the game and gave themselves a shot to win in the dying minutes of the game. They were able to force OT and by that time, momentum was clearly on their side and they were able to run away with their first win in this series. Let’s now have a review of out keys to the game and evaluate the Mixers’ Game 1 performance.
Review of Keys to the Game
DEFEND THE ARC
The Tropang Texters once again relied heavily on their outside shooting in this game (only 24 points compared to Mixers’ 42 points in the paint). TNT chucked up 33 three-point shot attempts but only managed to hit 12 of them resulting into a 36% three-point shooting percentage. This is an improvement to the Tropang Texters 52% shooting from beyond the arc in their game against the Mixers in the eliminations. Most long bombs of TNT were contested and closed out on well and the Mixers did a pretty decent job in their switching defense to make sure no shooter is wide open in pick and pop situations. The Mixers’ defense especially by Marqus Blakely on Paul Harris was unforgiving limiting TNT’s import to only 3 of 11 shooting from beyond the arc, far from his nine of 13 shooting in their last encounter; I guess the Mixers learned their lesson well that Harris is a more complete player now having developed a deadly outside shot.
CONTROL THE BOARDS
The Mixers were still out-rebounded in this game but not much. TNT edged them in the battle of the boards 48-47 which is a decent deficit considering how they’ve been out-rebounded by other teams all conference long. This resulted into an even eight points second chance points on 14 offensive rebounds for each team. The Mixers did a good job in this department as they didn’t let the Tropang Texters to dominate them and have more scoring opportunities. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Marqus Blakely who led the way for them in terms of rebounding but rookie Ian Sangalang, collaring 14 boards in this game.
KEEP ON STEPPING UP
It was a fun game to watch as finally, the starters of the Mixers were able to get key contributions from their starters with only JDV not scoring in double figures with 9 points. With their key players down (with injury), the rest of the Mixers stepped it up and battled through adversity. Marc Pingris and Mark Barroca steered them to this W in overtime taking turns in punishing TNT’s defense.
Aside from their starters, their bench must again be commended for their stellar play especially in the 2nd quarter wherein they played steady to keep the game close. Alex Mallari made key contributions (6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals) in 16 minutes of action. Ian Sangalang also played well dropping close to a double-double of nine points and 14 rebounds in the game. As for Justin Melton, although he only contributed four points, he was all over the floor in this one generating three assists and 2 rebounds in 16 minutes of play. But the man of the hour for San Mig in this game, aside from Marqus Blakely, is no other than Allein Maliksi. Struggling all game long (3 of 12 percent FG), Maliksi buried a tough three-pointer in the left corner with 12.3 seconds left that tied the game and sent it to overtime.
With the win, the Mixers have a head start against the Tropang Texters in this best-of-five series. It is expected that TNT will adjust and come out strong in Game two and SMC must be ready for this storm. Also, the Mixers must also expect a rampaging Paul Harris who was clearly outplayed by his counterpart Marqus Blakely in Game one. Although having a 1-0 lead, things aren’t looking so good for the Mixers as PJ Simon is still doubtful for Game 2 and new injuries to James Yap and Joe Devance will be a cause for concern for the team. They have a day of rest to be able to regroup and devise a strategy to get that win number two despite the probable absence of their key guys in Game number two.