SAN Mig import James Mays was grateful to walking wounded teammate Marc Pingris for covering his back during a come-from-behind 70-65 win over Alaska in Game Two of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal playoff on Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-8 inside banger was not in his element during the series-tying win, finishing with a quiet 12 points and 11 rebounds.
But with the Mixers riding on the 17-point and 12-rebound effort of the hurting Pingris, they managed to claw their way back from a 12-point deficit and force a rubber match against the aces on Saturday.
“The last two weeks, I’ve been dealing with back spams and then went down with colds, but he (Pingris) saved my butt,” Mays told Spin.ph, his voice still hoarse due to a bout with respiratory tract infection.
But the former Clemson standout said even with his illness, he promised Pingris that he’ll still give his best in battling out Alaska’s physical frontline of Sonny Thoss, reigning Best Import awardee Robert Dozier, Gabby Espinas, and Calvin Abueva.
“I told him, "Look, I’m gonna try my best to do what I can,' but he just stepped up. He just came up with an unbelievable game, getting loose balls, keeping Dozier off the glass, shot free throws, he really was a post presence and he really helped me out,” added the US-born Central African player.
Aside from being under the weather, Mays has been dealing with back spasms since the tailend of the elimination round.
Still, the San Mig import said he knows his role and will try to work double-time in the hope of carrying the Mixers to a third straight Finals appearance.
“For me, it’s a struggle because the last two weeks is so hard for me physically with my body. A lot of people don’t know that, but I just tried to do what I could, get to score, set the screen, rebound, pass to my teammates,” explained Mays.
The NBA D-League veteran will try to redeem himself from the sub-par Game Two performance when the Mixers try to put an end to the Aces’ reign on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.