MARC Pingris and import Denzel Bowles provided the much-needed spark as defending champion San Mig Coffee clobbered Air21, 80-66, to book a quarterfinal seat in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Pingris was a picture of consistency for the Mixers, scoring inside, grabbing rebounds and playing good help defense in a well-rounded performance he spiked with 14 points and 14 rebounds, three assists and two shot blocks in 31 minutes of play.
By the time he sprained his right ankle 10 minutes into the final period, the Mixers were comfortably ahead, 64-48.
Bowles, on the other hand, led the reigning champions with 29 points and 16 rebounds as he and Pingris carried the offensive load for the Mixers, who failed to get anything from ailing superstar James Yap.
Yap, a two-time league MVP who has been suffering from a flu for the last eight days, failed to score in six attempts. He played a total of just 14 minutes.
“James was sick the whole week. He didn’t practice the whole week and tried a little practicing yesterday,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone after the game.
“The plan was really to start him (Yap) but he made the decision to come off the bench. It was a great sacrifice for him since it’s been a struggle for him the last few weeks. Hopefully, we can get him right just before the playoffs,” Cone added.
The Mixers won back-to-back games for the first time in over a month as they avenged their 82-87 loss to the Express on March 20.
Overall, San Mig improved to 7-6 to move up to fifth place, while Air21 dropped its third straight game and fell to 5-8.
San Mig Coffee 80 - Bowles 29, Pingris 14, Simon 12, Barroca 9, Devance 7, Gaco 6, Mallari 2, De Ocampo 1, Najorda 0, Yap 0, Gonzales 0, Reavis 0
Air21 66 - Canaleta 26, Dunigan 18, Isip 10, Omolon 4, Menor 2, Custodio 2, Cortez 2, Arboleda 2, Atkins 0, Sena 0, Wilson 0, Baclao 0, Ritualo 0
Quarterscores: 20-16, 39-39, 60-45, 80-66