A conference that started with optimism ended in disappointment as the San Mig Coffee Mixers failed to defend their Commissioner’s Cup title. SMC started out sluggish and slow, losing by an average margin of 15.7 points per 100-possession. They changed imports two games into the season, welcoming last year’s Best Import of the Conference winner, Denzel Bowles. However, even with Bowles, they struggled winning with any consistency and found it hard to reach the .500 mark. They finished the conference with a record of 8-6, battling it out with Meralco in a best-of-3 games series. San Mig Coffee lost Game 1 but bounced back big time, winning their next 2 games to setup a much awaited matchup with Tim Cone’s old team, the Alaska Aces. Prior to the series, Alaska’s never won against Tim Cone (since he left the Uytengsu-led franchise — a team he coached for nearly 2 decades — 2 years ago). A lot of experts expected Alaska to finally win a game against their old mentor but most agreed that SMC still has Alaska’s number and would eventually win the series. Their win in Game 1, somehow gave confidence to this train of thought. But Alaska proved their worth, winning the next 3 games. They won Games 3 and 4 in dramatic, come-from-behind fashion. It was an up and down conference for the Mixers. Surely, failing to defend their title leaves a sour taste on the mouths of their fans.
Most Valuable Player: Marc Barroca
The Coffee Prince was a revelation this conference. His basketball IQ served him well as he was able to operate under a cerebral coach like Tim Cone. The key now is for him to stay hungry and continue listening to his coaches, chief among them is legendary Alaska point guard Johnny Abbarientos.
I think the long break will benefit this team. Injuries hounded the Mixers during the tournament, especially James Yap (who had various, nagging injuries not to mention the off the court struggles that clearly affected his game). He’s played with off-the-court adversity before, even winning an MVP during the controversial divorce year a few years back. This conference was different though. I guess the physical and metal toll was too much for James this conference, and even though he’s still one of the best players in the league, he’s not getting any younger. Which begs the question? Should SMC invest on its future and trade for a younger player to serve as King James’ backup? And then afterwards, take the crown from the King once wear and tear take its toll.
There are good players from the other teams under the San Miguel Corporation umbrella that the Mixers can use. Players that are riding the bench for their current teams who need a change in scenery. Of course, sister teams can not trade players directly among each other so they’ll need a 3rd party. I am hoping the Mixers can find a way to grab Joseph Yeo and Rico Maierhofer.
Rico won the Rookie of the Year with Purefoods but he’s struggled since then. Some say he was traded because he didn’t fit Cone’s system, but he is not fitting with Ginebra right now anyways. SMC would love to get his energy off-the-bench and he’d probably serve well as a change-of-pace player (from the likes of Devance and Yancy). His rebounding (10.3 rebounds per 36 minutes) will also help a team that ranked among the league’s worst rebounders.
Similarly, Yeo never got consistent minutes with Petron. SMC already has Yap and Simon but a microwave, off-the-pine scorer, like Yeo, can help bolster a team that was lackluster on offense last conference.
Guys like Alex Mallari and Rafi Reavis are assets that SMC can move to make the team better.
Marcus Blakely is back for some unfinished business. B-Meg made it all the way to Game 7 of the Governor’s Cup Finals last year. Then Marcus fouled out and lost the title to Rain or Shine. Blakely will look for payback — along with the rest of the San Mig Coffee crew that flamed out in the Commissioner’s Cup and the Philippine Cup. Expect them to start the season with a bang.
See more posts from this series
- Retribution On-Hold: The Rain or Shine 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review
- Never Say Never: The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review
- Roller-coaster conference: The San Miguel Coffee Mixers 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review
- The One That Got Away: The Petron Blaze Boosters 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review
- Heart of a Champion: The Alaska Aces 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Conference Review
- Four Blind Mice: The Talk ‘n Text Tropang Texters 2013 Commissioner’s Cup Review