WILLIE Miller and import Joshua Dollard led a late fightback while Ronjay Buenafe nailed the game-winning free throws as Barako Bull pulled off a 92-90 win over San Mig to keep its playoff hopes alive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Miller and Dollard scored a combined 26 of the team’s 30 fourth quarter points as the duo helped erase what was once an imposing 16-point deficit in the final canto and dealt the reigning Philippine Cup and Governors Cup champion its first loss in four games in the conference.
“I know it’s an upset, but like we’ve been saying, we will try to keep the game close every game, and thank God for allowing us to achieve that (win),” said a beaming Barako Bull coach Bong Ramos, whose team moved up to eighth spot in the standings.
The Mixers had an opportunity to send the game into overtime, but Mark Barroca’s wide-open drive to the basket rimmed out before Mick Pennisi cleared the rebound as time expired, ending the Energy’s three-game losing skid.
The 5’10” Miller, who repeatedly attacked the smaller Barroca at the post, finished with 19 points and 10 assists for his first double-double for the conference, while Dollard erupted for 32 along with 17 rebounds in another herculean effort.
“He (Miller) played good tonight, that’s why I didn’t relieve him anymore. Nag-step up siya sa second half,” said Ramos, commending the two-time league MVP for using his veteran smarts in a fourth-quarter rescue job.
Interestingly, Barako Bull’s two victories this conference came at the expense of Rain or Shine and San Mig, THE two Philippine Cup Finals protagonists.
James Mays led the Mixers with 20 points, but he only had four in the final three quarters. He started the game like a house on fire, burying 16 points in the opening frame, but later on, ran into early foul trouble.
Joe Devance added 17 points, while PJ Simon chipped in 16 for the Mixers.
Barako Bull 92 - Dollard 32, Miller 19, Intal 10, Marcelo 7, Deutchman 6, Pennisi 6, Fortuna 5, Buenafe 5, Wilson 2, Lastimosa 0, Pena 0, Miranda 0.
San Mig 90 - Mays 20, Devance 17, Simon 16, Yap 12, Barroca 10, Pingris 8, Melton 3, Sangalang 2, Reavis 2, Mallari 0.
Quarterscores: 18-26, 49-47, 62-78, 92-90