SAN Mig Coffee survived Barako Bull, 92-91, in a PBA Philippine Cup game marred by controversy over a 'goaltending' non-call on a potential game-winner by Rico Villanueva in the final seconds on Sunday night.
The Mixers squandered a late fourth quarter lead but held on thanks to PJ Simon’s clutch basket and the referees' decision not to call a goaltending violation on Rafi Reavis in the contentious final play of the game.
“We really needed this one tonight,” Mixers coach Tim Cone said after the team snapped a two-game losing skid. “It was just a little troublesome that we had a late lead but gave it up.”
Trailing, 72-81, with less than seven minutes remaining in the game, the Energy Cola turned to Ronald Tubid who sparked a 19-9 run that suddenly gave them a 91-90 lead with 1:18 to go.
Simon, though, saved the Mixers’ day after burying a contested mid-range jumper in their last offensive possession.
The Energy Cola, who dropped to 2-4, had the chance to retake the lead in the ensuing possession, but Villanueva’s hook shot bounced a couple times above the rim before Reavis tapped it out with the leather still within the cylinder.
Referees let the decision stand after a review as chaos erupted on the floor, with Villanueva and teammate Josh Urbiztondo seen complaining to Commissioner Chito Salud, who later stood by the referees’ call.
“It was a good call. It’s a legal play. Our rule since the 2006-07 season has been that once the ball hits the rim, any player can swipe it in or out. Goaltending is when the ball is (on the way) down,” he said.
Still, Barako Bull coach Junel Baculi aired his displeasure over the call.
“We were robbed of the win. For me, they should’ve just let the players decide the game. We executed a well-designed endgame play wherein we were capable of winning,” he said.
Before Simon hit the go-ahead basket, it was James Yap who waxed hot. The former MVP fired 13 of his game-high 21 points in the payoff period including a layup with 7:04 remaining that gave the Mixers a nine-point lead.
But as Barako’s defense was able to adjust, the Mixers’ lead slowly disappeared.
“We were a little bit too James-reliant so when the defense focused on him, he was forced to take tough shots,” Cone said. “I feel sorry because we put so much pressure on him. We have to spread the defense out, have more options.
“We talked about it, but it's a habit we're having a hard time breaking.”
SAN MIG COFFEE (92) – Yap 21, Simon 15, Ramos 10, Barroca 9, Gonzales 9, Pingris 9, De Ocampo 8, Devance 5, Reavis 5, Villanueva 1
BARAKO (91) – Tubid 17, Villanueva 16, Urbiztondo 14, Kramer 12, Pennisi 12, Najorda 9, Yap 5, Anthony 4, Cervantes 2, Alvarez 0, Ballesteros 0
Quarterscores: 17-24, 42-48, 66-61, 92-91