Despite the lack of production from the key guys of the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, they were still able to make a game out of this. PJ Simon looked like he was out of his element in this game missing point-blank shots and only finishing with his conference-low 6 points on 30 percent eFG. Marc Pingris only contributed two points (25 percent eFG) while James Yap managed to chip in nine points (41 percent eFG).
What kept the Mixers in the game was the brilliant showing of Marqus Blakely and Joe Devance. Blakely had his usual numbers and finished with 21 points (66.7 percent eFG), 22 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 3 blocks. On the other hand, Joe Devance came out firing in this game as he finished with 30 points (tying his career-high) on 4 three-pointers (83.3 percent eFG) and added 2 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks as well.
As expected, it was a hard-fought battle and a very entertaining game. Both teams looked to take solo first in the team standings and secure a top four finish after this game. But unfortunately for the Mixers (5-3), they fell short to the Tropang Texters (6-2) who were the ones that were able to make the big shots and key plays down the stretch. Let’s now look at went down in this game that lead to the Mixers defeat against the Tropang Texters.
TNT’S OUTSIDE SHOTS
As I’ve said in my pregame, TNT has a lot of talented players who can spread the floor and hit outside bombs. In this game, they were able to hit their outside shots connecting on 13 of their 25 attempts (52 percent) attempts from beyond the arc.
Leading the way for them unexpectedly was their import, Paul Harris, who shot 9 of the 13 from deep. San Mig failed to contain Harris for most of the game as he finished with 39 points on a great shooting night (73.3 percent TS). The Mixers wasn’t really prepared for Harris’ outside sniping as he was only a 15.8 percent shooter from deep in his last stint in the PBA, also with the Tropang Texters.
Just like in their game against the Express, the Mixers were once again outrebounded in this game against the Tropang Texters.
The Mixers allowed more possessions to the Tropang Texters in this one leading to an 18-6 advantage for TNT in terms of 2nd chance points. The Mixers must be able to control the boards for them to have better chances of winning games and this must be able to address this in their upcoming games this conference.
The Mixers have one more thing to blame for this loss: free throw shooting. They were only able to sink 9 of their 23 attempts (39.1 percent) compared to TNT connecting on 15 of their 25 attempts (60 percent). James Yap missed all of his free throw attempts during the crucial stretch of the game and Marqus Blakely, after a terrific free throw shooting performance against the Express, shot poorly (5/15 33.33%) in this one. If only San Mig were able to convert half of their missed free throws, the could have won this game.
That’s the best word to describe San Mig’s defense so far this conference, most especially in this game: inconsistent. Their defense was nowhere to be found in the opening quarter conceding 31 points to TNT. Fortunately for them, their second unit was able to run the floor in the 2nd quarter resulting into transition points for them that helped them get back into the game (They outscored TNT on the break in this one 24-4). The third quarterwas when the Tropang Texters got a taste of the Mixers’ true defensive ability, being held to only 15 points as the Mixer were able to take the lead.
This game just emphasizes the Mixers’ primary weapon which is their defense. When their defense is on, it’s hard to beat this team. The Mixers must not lose this identity of theirs and must continue to improve their defense and learn to be consistent at that with the playoffs already fast approaching. However, the learning curve for the Mixers should be shortened as they need this top-caliber defense of theirs against Rain or Shine in their last game, that would determine the playoff-seeding in the 2014 PBA Governor’s Cup.