PETRON Blaze stepped on the gas in a frenetic fourth-quarter surge to frustrate sister team San Mig Coffee, 100-84, and take a 1-0 headstart in their PBA Governors Cup Finals on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Chris Lutz and import Elijah Millsap presided over the Boosters’ finishing kick, scoring one big basket after the other in the final period that turned a two-point deficit into a sizeable 95-81 bubble with under two minutes to go.
Millsap, brother of Atlanta Hawks forward Paul, staked his claim to the Best Import award with a triple-double - 35 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists - as he repeatedly mocked San Mig’s defense.
The Boosters, who are coming off a 3-1 semifinal series win over deposed champion Rain or Shine, were stymied to just 36 points in the second and third period before exploding in the final quarter against a San Mig team that shot itself in the foot with a maze of late errors.
“We’re very happy with this win. I just thought we played great in the fourth quarter. This win boosts our confidence,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla, who is looking to end the franchise’s two-year title drought right in his first conference at the helm.
Despite the seemingly easy win, Abanilla refused to relax, saying the series is a long way to go, given San Mig’s ability to bounce back from adversity.
“This (win) means nothing for now. It’s still a long series. We just have to continue to grind and do the things we’re supposed to do,” he added.
Petron’s scoring depth came to fore in the opener of the season-ending best-of-seven series with no less than six players finishing in double figures.
Leading MVP candidate Arwind Santos scored 16 points, rookie big man June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter added 12 apiece while Lutz scored all his 11 points in the final period. Alex Cabagnot chipped in 10.
Marqus Blakely led the Mixers with 23 points and 14 boards while Marc Pingris added 16.
James Yap was held down to just eight points on 2-of-9 shooting.