It looked like Game 3 would be a slug fest after a quarter, with the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers leading only by 1, 21-20. But the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters stepped on the gas pedal starting in the second quarter, leaving the Mixers in the dust. The Tropang Texters stringed back-to-back 30-point quarters for the first time in this series en-route to a masterful 112-86 beat down of the Mixers in Game 3. Aside from the full-throttle offense of TNT, it was their defense that was huge factor in this win, giving San Mig a dose of their own medicine.
The Mixers shot a woeful 39 percent (30 of 77) from the field and were forced by TNT into a lot of three-point shots (that’s not really their strong suit), only converting 7 of 24 (29.2 percent). TNT also forced into more turnovers (11 compared to 9 by SMC) that lead into 21 turnover points for them. That huge second and third quarter run by the Tropang Texters obviously deflated the entire Mixers squad with Coach Tim Cone benching his starters for most of the final quarter.
The Mixers have a chance to redeem themselves and close this series out. What do they have to do to end it here in Game 4?
Keys to the Game
DISRUPT TNT’S OFFENSE
In Game 3, TNT showed everyone what they can do as a team offensively. They were moving the ball really well recording 30 assists with 12 players dishing out at least an assist for them. This resulted into better shots inside and out as TNT shot an amazing clip of 50.6 percent and got their three-point game going shooting 43.8 percent (14 of 32) from deep.
In this game, the Mixers must assert their dominance on the defensive end. They must be able to clog the interior just like what they did in Game 2 of this series. They must also make sure that the shooters of TNT are kept in check. If the Tropang Texters have another hot-shooting night like in Game 3, the Mixers’ chances of closing out the series here in Game 4 would be dimmer. For this not to happen, their primary focus in this game should be on what they do best as team: DEFENSE.
RUN THE TRIANGLE
The Mixers recorded 18 assists in this game. For this squad, it’s usually a good number (above their average of 16.3 dimes per game). However, in the second, third, and fourth quarters, the Mixers seemed to be out of their element. They kept on jacking up three-point shots, contested jump shots from the perimeter, and running one-on-one plays. This is not what the Mixers are known for. For them to win Game 4, they must go back to basic and run the triangle. They must be able to move the ball around better for the better duration of the game and find the open man and attempt higher percentage shots. They must make the defense of TNT work and not the other way around.
Marqus Blakely: 8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block.
Marc Pingris: 7 points, 6 rebounds, 0 assists, and 1 steal.
Both of these guys can do better. We all know what Blakely can do. We all know what Pingris can do. Aside from their stats, one thing that is expected from both of these guys is the energy that they bring in the court. If these two play with a lot more intensity in this game, their energy would rub off to the rest of the Mixers, and would result in better chances of winning and closing out the series here in Game 4.
Key Match-up: Mixers’ Bench vs. Tropang Texters’ Bench
In Game 3, the Mixers were obviously not prepared for the production of TNT’s bench. Danny Seigle, Elmer Espiritu, and Jimmy Alapag contributed big numbers for the Tropang Texters and caught the Mixers by surprise. Here in Game 4, it’s time for the Mixers bench to equalize or takeover the contribution of TNT’s shock troopers. The performance of the second unit of San Mig led by Allein Maliksi, Justin Melton, and Ian Sangalang will be a critical factor in this game. Simply put, the team that has the better supporting cast probably wins this game.
Here in Game 4, I boldly predict a win for the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers. Coach Tim Cone, time and time again, has proven to be a master tactician and will adjust or devise a better game plan here in Game 4. Also, he benched his starters in the last quarter of Game 3 and because of this, I believe that SMC’s starters will come out firing in this game. One more thing, I think the sense of urgency in the Mixers’ camp is at an all-time high at this point as everybody knows that if this series goes down to a deciding Game 5, momentum will drastically shift to TNT’s side. If the Mixers want to move on to the Finals and move one step closer to their dream of a Grand Slam, the time is now.