SAN Mig bucked the absence of star forward Marc Pingris as rookie Ian Sangalang and Mark Barroca stepped up come crunch time to repulse Rain or Shine, 93-90, and give the Mixers a commanding 3-1 lead in their PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Sangalang couldn't have picked a better time to play his finest game as a pro, scoring 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go with eight rebounds as he ably filled the void left by Pingris after the Gilas mainstay was taken out of the game with an eye injury.
Together with the unflappable Barroca, Sangalang turned around a six-point at the onset of the fourth quarter and led the Mixers to within a win of a second straight league championship.
Now ahead 3-1 in the best-of-seven finals, the former Purefoods franchise can wrap up the first all-Filipino title for the team in four seasons - and an all-time record 16th career championship for coach Tim Cone - when Game Five is played on Sunday, also at the Big Dome.
"We got fortunate we got two of those (wins in the endgame, referring to Games Three and Four ). We won the battle, we hope we didn't lose the war with Ping, who is injured," he added.
The 6-5 Sangalang, this season's No. 2 pick overall, scored on a floating jumper off Barroca's pass that gave the Mixers the 90-84 cushion with one a half minutes to to go.
The Elasto Painters kept battling to come to within 90-91 behind Paul Lee's five-point cluster and a split from the foul line by big boy JR Quinahan, but Barroca made his pair of foul shots with 12.4 seconds to go, making it 93-90.
But with Rain or Shine running out of timeout, Lee took matters into his own hands, letting go a three-point attempt that rolled out, allowing the Mixers to escape with their third straight win in the series.
"I thought that Paul Lee shot was in, but every game has gone down the wire," said Cone.
Pingris left the game with 4:59 to go in the third quarter after being poked in the right eye by JR Quinahan during a rebound battle under San Mig's basket.
Pingris was grimacing in pain as he headed back to the bench and never returned. He was later on taken to the hospital for an examination.
Sangalang and Barroca played big in the final period, combining for 13 points that more than made up for the absence of the energetic Pingris, who has been San Mig's defensive catalyst this conference.
Barroca matched Sangalang's 17-point output.
"They (Elasto Painters) are really hard to shake. They came back from 10 points down at halftime and led by six, but somehow, to the credit of our guys, we didn't hang our heads, but we just continued to battle," said Cone.
Lee again was big in Game Four, firing 28 points spiked by five three-point shots, as he almost singlehandedly carried the fight for Rain or Shine, which trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half.
San Mig 93 - Barroca 17, Sangalang 17, Yap 17, Devance 12, Simon 12, Melton 7, Pingris 6, Mallari 3, Reavis 2, Gaco 0.
Rain or Shine 90 - Lee 28, Quinahan 11, Belga 10, Norwood 10, Cruz 8, Almazan 6, Chan 6, Tiu 4, Ibanes 4, Arana 3, Tang 0, Nuyles 0, Teng 0, Rodriguez 0.
Quarterscores: 26-27, 52-42, 70-76, 93-90