IT’S no question where the San Mig Super Coffee defense will focus on. What needs to be answered is can the Mixers catch 'The Blur?’
The Mixers try to put the clamps on Jason Castro when they seek to regain momentum in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals in Game Three against Talk ‘N Text on Tuesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After allowing Castro to unload 30 points - the most by any local in this import-spiced conference - in Game Two, San Mig hopes to avoid another explosion from the Best Player of the Conference award frontrunner when it meets Talk `N Text anew in Game Three set at 8 p.m.
Although he didn’t take the Texters’ star point guard one-on-one - the unenviable task being assigned to defensive whiz Marc Pingris - Mixers counterpart Mark Barroca is taking some responsibility for letting Castro run rings around them during Talk `N Text's 86-76 victory.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila, isang tao lang ang tumalo sa amin,” said Barroca, who was clearly outplayed by Castro after finishing with only seven points on 1-of-9 shooting (missing all his six attempts from within the arc) to show in 33 minutes of play.
Castro, hailed as the best point guard in Asia after making the mythical team of last year’s Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship, registered 17 points but had to take 15 shots in the Texters’ Game One loss.
The Mixers actually had to pick their poison as hard-working TNT import Richard Howell also did a lot of damage down low.
“Pag hindi naman ma-shoot ni Jason, yung mga putback naman ni Howell (ang pumatay sa amin),” Barroca said of the American reinforcement, a top contender for the Best Import Award, who hauled down nine of his 20 caroms on the offensive end.
Barroca, though, still found some positives in the loss where the Mixers mounted a late comeback that saw them threaten behind import James Mays and rookie sparkplugs Justin Melton and Ian Sangalang.
But that won’t be enough as San Mig Coffee hopes to rediscover the right mix that enabled the treble-seeking franchise to stun Talk N Text, 95-80, in the series opener that halted the Texters’ amazing 13-game winning streak.
“Dapat ma-maintain namin yung ginawa namin nung first game,” said Barroca, whose team scored 21 fast-break points and converted 21 points out of the Texters’ 21 turnovers in Game One.
Barroca also hopes the Mixers’ starting unit, led by James Yap and PJ Simon, will regain its touch and rhythm.
“Yung first five namin, hindi masyado gumawa…so Game Three baka sila naman magdadala sa amin.”
Yap and Simon were benched for the most part of the second half by Mixers coach Tim Cone, who is currently involved in a chess match against Texters’ counterpart Norman Black.
“It’s (Texters’ Game Two fightback) not something we didn’t expect. We expect the series to be really tough,” the most-titled mentor in the league said. “We’re certainly not pleased with our performance, but we expect to come back and play a lot better.”