WITH the way Game One of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series was decided on Saturday night, coaches Luigi Trillo and Tim Cone both agree the best-of-five showdown could go the distance.
And San Mig Coffee and Alaska’s emphasis on defense has a lot to do with that.
In a low scoring, grind-out game, the reigning champion Mixers pulled off a 71-69 thriller over the Aces in the series opener behind the heroics of import Denzel Bowles, who scored the team’s last six points.
“But that’s (tight defense) gonna be every game. Every game will be like this, it’s gonna be down the wire, highly physical and a matter of who will make big shots down the stretch,” Cone said afterwards.
The San Mig mentor, though, is hopeful the Mixers could build on the momentum of their Game One win as they gun for a commanding 2-0 lead over the Aces on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Game time is at 6:45 p.m.
The 6-foot-10 Bowles was held to a personal conference-low 12 points in Game One, but the reigning Best Import saved his best for last, burying a 10-footer, followed by two more 18-footers in the end to seal the win.
Trillo said despite the team’s ninth straight loss to San Mig, he was pleased with the energy and defensive effort the Aces showed in the opener.
However, he wanted his team not to break down on defense again in the endgame.
“We didn’t execute the way we wanted to. In the end, we didn’t get up on him (Bowles) on defense,” said Trillo, who is now 0-6 against Cone – his former mentor - in their head-to-head coaching duel.
"But other than that, I thought we did an awesome job with him. But we’re sharp, and we need to just go back to the drawing boards."