MARQUS Blakely and Marc Pingris simply refused to lose in a Game Seven thriller, providing the big plays in an endgame surge that enabled San Mig Coffee to pull off an 87-77 victory and wrap up the PBA Governors Cup championship at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Blakely had two big baskets and two key defensive stops while Pingris was all hustle and heart on both ends of the floor when San Mig made the game's most decisive move before a crowd of more than 21,000 fans that mostly either stood or stayed in the edge of their seats in the thrilling finish.
"And this guy, what can you say. He's so much heart," said San Mig coach Tim Cone as he hugged Pingris in the middle of the celebration while balloons fell from the Big Dome rafters.
By winning the season-ending best-of-seven series 4-3, the former Purefoods ballclub won its second championship over the last five conferences and more importantly the career 15th title for Cone, putting the veteran coach in the company of the great Baby Dalupan at the top of the all-time list.
"I'm pretty humbled right now," said the American coach.
The championship also put a fitting end to the season of the tenacious Pingris, who played the hero's role in Game Seven just months after starring in Gilas Pilipinas' runner-up finish behind Iran in the Fiba-Asia championship in Manila in August.
He was fittingly awarded with the Finals MVP award by the PBA Press Corps.
“He did all the work,” said Cone of Pingris, who churned out 19 points, 17 boards, and five blocks.
The jampacked crowd saw a see-saw affair in the first three quarters, before the Mixers started to create breathing room in the payoff period by opening a nine-point spread.
The Boosters came within 77-80 after an Arwind Santos stab with one minute and 37 seconds left, before Pingris and Blakely combined to score six of the Mixers’ last seven points to seal the deal.
“They didn’t play perfect basketball. They played with perfect effort,” Cone said. “I guess we just had more intent at the end of the game.”
Pingris even provided the early offensive spark, scoring eight points in the first quarter, including the Mixers’ first six points of the game as they were gave the Boosters stiff competition despite Blakely going scoreless for the quarter.
Blakely, though, came alive in the second quarter with eight markers as the Mixers entered the dugout with a two-point cushion.
San Mig Coffee 87 - Blakely 19, Pingris 19, Simon 16, Devance 11, Barroca 10, Yap 8, Mallari 2, De Ocampo 2.
Petron 77 - Millsap 25, Fajardo 20, Lassiter 11, Cabagnot 8, Santos 7, Lutz 4, Kramer 2, Deutchman 0, Tubid 0.
Quarters: 19-19, 41-39, 65-61, 87-77