SAN Mig Coffee banked on James Yap’s third-quarter explosion to blast Rain or Shine, 106-82, on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena and even their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series at one apiece.
Recovering from a cold-shooting Game One showing, the pride of Escalante City, Negros Occidental bucked a right knee injury and put on a virtuoso performance as he fired 16 of his 34 points in the third period where the Mixers broke the game wide and never looked back.
The Mixers also drew significant contributions from starting backcourt of Mark Barroca, who tallied 17 points and eight assists, and PJ Simon, who finished with 13 points, six rebounds, and two assists.
Mixers coach Tim Cone said he really had to lean on the trio for an extended period of time.
“We shortened our rotation tonight,” the multi-titled American mentor said. “We really put the pressure on James, PJ, and Mark to play extra minutes tonight and carry the load. And they did wonderful job.”
Yap finished with just 11 points on 3-for-11 shooting in San Mig's 83-91 loss in Game One which he left with minutes to play after twisting his knee. But he was a completely different man in Game Two where he hit three-pointers from every conceivable angle, going 7-for-12 from that area.
"Simple basketball lang," said Yap, who skipped practice on Thursday to rest a tender knee. "Pa-jump-shot jump-shot lang. Kung may chance magda-drive, drive. Kundi ipasa. Dapat ganoon lang ka-simple ang basketball."
As soon as their superstar started hitting his shots, everything went smoothly for the Mixers who opened the game wide-open late in the second half when a red-hot Yap hit a three-pointer from the elbow and another from the deep right corner to beat the third-quarter buzzer, 75-62.
San Mig only had seven bench points at the half, compared to 21 by Rain or Shine, which led for the most part.
“We made few adjustments, went to a smaller lineup, and we got a lot of matchups we wanted,” Cone said. “As opposed to Game One, Yeng was just the master of matchups in that game, I just felt so outcoached.”
After trailing by nine at the end of the first quarter, the Mixers cut the lead to just two at the half and finally went up after Simon scored four straight points to make it 44-43 for San Mig early in the third.
“We had a picture-perfect second half. It all came all together for us,” said Cone, whose team’s 68 second-half points is the highest by any team this conference.
Painters coach Yeng Guiao’s ejection in the third quarter also benefited the Mixers, who gained a 13-point lead entering the fourth.
A handful of key Painters were out of their element, with Gabe Norwood coming up with only two markers in 25 minutes and rookie Chris Tiu going scoreless in 16 minutes.
San Mig 106 – Yap 34, Barroca 17, Devance 17, Simon 13, Pingris 9, Gonzales 6, Reavis 4, Ramos 3, De Ocampo 3, Pacana 0
Rain or Shine 82 – Rodriguez 12, Quinahan 12, Chan 10, Cruz 9, Belga 9, Lee 7, Matias 7, Ibanes 7, Arana 5, Norwood 2, Tang 2, Tiu 0
Quarterscores: 18-27, 38-40, 75-62, 106-82