In a game of runs, it was a blistering run that decided the outcome of this game. The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers are used to being on the winning end of these kinds of games, but not this time as Alaska used a huge 3rd quarter run to break the game wide open (lead by as much as 18 points) and never looked back. San Mig tried to make a game out of this late in the 4th but wasn’t able to overcome the lead mounted by Alaska in time. The Mixers (4-2) dropped a few spots in the team standings as their 3-game winning streak ends while the Aces (3-4) improved their chances of securing a top-4 finish as they end their 3-game drought in the elimination round of the 2014 PBA Governor’s Cup.
Let’s now take a look on how this game went down and how Alaska scored a victory against San Mig.
It was pretty obvious right from the get go that Alaska wanted this win badly. They all wanted to erase the painful memory of their worst loss in franchise history against Rain or Shine in their previous outing. It showed in their aggressiveness early in the game, keeping in step with the defending champs for most part of the 1st half. They secured a lot more posessions compared to the Mixers as multiple Alaska players crashed the boards for offensive rebounds.
The Aces’ aggressiveness was on full display not only on offense but on defense as well. They were able to disrupt the “Triangle” of the Mixers for most part of the game, doing a masterful job in the passing lanes. They forced the Mixers to a turnover rate of 18.21% for the game with most of the errors coming from their 3rd quarter run. Because of Alaska’s defense, San Mig had a hard time executing one of our keeys to the game which is to run the break. They were limited by the Aces to only 7 fast break attempts the whole game, way below their average fast break attempts in their 3-game run before this game.
As I have said in my pregame, the Mixers should take Alaska’s prolific import out of the equation. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case as Walker played a solid game for the Aces with an all-around performance of 32 points (5 three-pointers), 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals. He willed his team and simply refused to lose outplaying his counterpart on the other team, Marqus Blakely en route to his conference-high in points and in rebounds.
It seems that the Mixers lacked mental focus in this game. Coming from a 4-day break, you would expect them to have fresher legs against the Aces but that wasn’t the case. They looked tired out there on the floor, pleading the referees for some calls, which is very unlikely of the defending champs. As I have said in my pre-game, this will be an easy game for them to win, only if they are focused and not be too complacent. I guess this wasn’t the case this time. It was one of those games were the physicality of the opposing team got the best of them.
Something Positive: Mixers’ 2nd Unit
If there’s something positive we can pick up from this game, it was the gallant effort of the Mixers’ shock troopers. In a game were the starters of San Mig were nowhere to be found (except for JDV who played a good game), their bench kept them in the game. Marqus Blakely got his usual rebounds, but failed to follow up his scoring outburst against Ginebra in their last game. PJ Simon was kept in check by Alaska’s defense only scoring 10 points in this one with most of them coming in the early moments of the game. James Yap managed to only chip in 6 points and Marc Pingris only contributed a point from the freethrow line. Without the play of their bench, the Mixers could’ve lost by a bigger margin in this game.
Special mention goes out to the Mixers’ rookies Justin Melton and Ian Sangalang for making their presence felt in the game. Also, Rafi Reavis also played a solid game coming away with 9 points on perfect shooting from the field and the foul. He also added 6 rebounds and 4 rebounds accross his name. Ian Maliksi was also there (9 points), providing the scoring punch and timely baskets. Another bench player who played well in this game was Alex Mallari who contributed 13 points (3/3 from 3-point range), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Somebody missing on the bench of San Mig however was the “Coffee King”, Mark Barroca who struggled in this one and finished with lots of zeros in the box score, 0 points and 0/5 from the field in just 15 minutes of play.
In this game, it showed that the Mixers’ bench can provide for the team if it’s needed. However, the starters should be able to contribute as well for a more balanced attack that will be harder to stop. In their next game against Air 21, it’s expected that the starters will be there to show up and atone for their absence in this game or else, they will be in danger of losing their 2nd game in a row.