THE glass slippers still fit for Air21 as it continued its Cinderella run in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs with a 94-91 victory over San Mig Super Coffee on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to extend their semifinal series to a deciding fifth game.
With their backs against the wall, the underdog Express came out with sufficient energy and amazing accuracy from beyond the three-point arc to maintain an double-digit lead throughout and level the best-of-five series at two wins apiece.
“I thought they were already contented with making the semifinals, but I must commend my players,” said Express coach Franz Pumaren, who even missed the presence of emergent forward Sean Anthony. “They don’t want to end the conference today.”
The Express banked on a torrid outside shooting that saw them establish a franchise-record 15 triples, eight coming from import Wesley Witherspoon, who finished with 32 points, eight boards, four steals, three assists, and two blocks.
Joseph Yeo, veteran Asi Taulava, and Mac Cardona scored in double figures for the Express, who are playing in a fourth do-or-die game this conference after surviving two sudden-deaths to eliminate fancied San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals.
The Mixers finished the game with an 18-4 run, which hardly mattered as the Express built a cushion that ballooned to as many as 17 points after a three-point play by fit-again Simon Atkins made it 90-73 with under five minutes remaining.
PJ Simon and James Yap conspired to rally the Mixers and wound up with 26 points and 22, respectively, while import James Mays hauled down 21 boards and 14 points that went for naught.
Air 21 94 - Witherspoon 32, Yeo 13, Taulava 12, Cardona 11, Borboran 8, Ramos 7, Atkins 6, Villanueva 3, Burtscher 2.
San Mig 91 - Simon 26, Yap 22, Mays 14, Sangalang 9, Pingris 6, Barroca 6, Devance 4, Melton 4, Mallari 0, Reavis 0.
Quarterscores: 26-14, 48-39, 71-61, 94-91