MARQUS Blakely carried San Mig on his back when little else was working for the team, leading the Mixers to a thrilling 113-109 overtime win over a plucky Air21 side in the PBA Governors Cup on Monday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Blakely, who coach Tim Cone likes to call 'Mr. Everything,' scored five of San Mig's last six points from the line and put in the work on defense as well, blocking a shot by Air21 import Dominique Sutton with the Express looking for an equalizer.
His split from the free throw line finally put San Mig out of reach, 113-109, and put away a win in a game where the grand slam-seeking franchise blew a 12-point second-half lead, leaving Cone fuming even after the game had already ended.
“In the big scheme of things, this is huge win for us,” said Cone, unable to hide his displeasure over the way the Mixers let Air21 back into the game in the second half. “We had that 12-point lead, then let it slip away.”
Cone was also quick to give credit to the Express - the same team that dragged San Mig to five games in the last Commissioner's Cup semifinals - while commending Air21 guard Joseph Yeo, who nailed the off-balanced three-pointer that sent the game to overtime.
“Joseph makes the great shot at the end of regulation. But Air21 has just played a wonderful last two conferences,” he added.
Blakely, the reigning Governors Cup best import, finished with 36 points, 17 rebounds, seven blocks and three steals in a solid all-around effort that allowed the Mixers to clinch a playoff berth with their 5-2 record.
He also converted 22 of his 31 shots from the foul line, a huge improvement considering that he was just averaging 60.9 percent on his free throws prior to the Air21 game.
Air21 dropped into a three-way tie for fourth to sixth spots with their 4-3 record.
However, Cone isn’t exactly happy with the Mixers' "overdependence" on Blakely, citing that locals like James Yap, PJ Simon, Mark Barroca and Joe Devance must be able to carry the load to ease the pressure on their do-it-all import.
“We got to carry our own load. We can’t use him (Blakely) as our crutch,” explained the multi-titled PBA coach. “Mark, PJ, Joe, James, they have to carry their own load."
“But that’s what Marqus is all about. He’s Mr. Everything. Though it’s difficult if we get to that habit (of depending on Blakely). That puts pressure on him.”
Simon finished with 17 points but only scored three points in the fourth period and overtime.
Sutton led the Express with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Asi Taulava chipped in 21 and 12 boards.
SAN MIG COFFEE (113) -- Blakely 36, Simon 17, Pingris 14, Maliksi 11, Melton 9, Yap 9, Barroca 6, Devance 4, Reavis 4, Mallari 3, Sanggalang 0.
AIR21 (109) -- Sutton 22, Taulava 21, Yeo 20, Poligrates 17, Ramos 8, Villanueva 6, Camson 6, Borboran 5, Menor 2, Cardona 2, Villanueva 0, Burtscher 0, Atkins 0.
Quarterscores: 21-27; 48-43; 80-69; 105-105 (OT); 113-109.