DENZEL Bowles shook off his game-long struggle by hitting San Mig Coffee’s last six points including the game-winning basket as the Mixers escaped past the Alaska Aces, 71-69, in the opener of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Bowles, the reigning Best Import, got stymied offensively for most part of the game, but with the outcome of the match on the line, the 6-foot-10 product of James Madison University came through with three straight crucial jump shots that allowed the defending champion Mixers to draw first blood in the best-of-five series.
“It was a magnificent battle, maybe not a pretty game because it’s all about defense. A lot of heart displayed by both teams because everybody had to bleed for points,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone afterwards.
Cone though credited Alaska’s defensive game plan, which gave Bowles difficult looks at the basket.
“It was a pretty game plan coming in. They really stymied our offense. We couldn’t get the ball to Denzel, except the last three possessions where he made those difficult shots.
“But he’s a big game, big moment guy, he’s just got that instinct that’s kind of special for us,” he added.
PJ Simon led the Mixers with 15 points, while Mark Barroca added 13, all of them coming in the third quarter as he kept San Mig Coffee afloat.
Bowles finished the game with a personal conference-low of 12 points, but added 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and three blocked shots.
Import Robert Dozier led Alaska with 21 points and 15 rebounds, but no one else among the Aces broke in double-digits in the scoring column.
The Aces had one last shot at a game-winning three-pointer, but Barroca intimidated JV Casio, whose attempt fell short.
The loss left Alaska still winless in nine meetings with San Mig since Cone left the Uytengsu franchise and assumed the coaching job of the Mixers.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo is 0-4 all-time against Cone.
Both squads figured in a low-scoring contest during the first half, which saw them score a combined 45 points.
Alaska’s 21 points matched the all-time franchise low for a half, which the Aces registered in a 65-82 loss to Tanduay on March 5, 2000 during the All-Filipino Cup.
On the other hand, San Mig Coffee’s seven points in the first period was the lowest output for the franchise over the last two seasons.
San Mig Coffee (71) --- Simon 15, Barroca 13, Bowles 12, Yap 10, Devance 6, Gonzales 5, Pingris 5, Reavis 2, De Ocampo 2, Mallari 1, Najorda 0.
Alaska (69) - - Dozier 21, Abueva 9, Hontiveros 8, Thoss 7, Baguio 7, Jazul 6, Casio 6, Espinas 5, Dela Cruz 0, Belasco 0.
Quarterscores: 7-11; 24-21; 50-48; 71-69.