AIR21 kept its giant-killing ways by knocking out defending champion San Mig Coffee, 87-82, to enhance its playoff bid in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday night at the Astrodome.
Their vaunted defense on display again, the Express threw the Mixers ball handlers off guard with their half court trapping defense, allowing them to score off turnovers and numerous fastbreak points.
It was the third straight win for Air21, which improved to 4-5 overall for a tie with San Mig.
“I feel so elated beating a team like San Mig and a coach like Tim Cone. Of course, we have to give it to our players. The guys played really smart especially when they made the run,” said winning coach Franz Pumaren.
The Express outscored the Mixers on fastbreak points, 14-4.
They also outrebounded the reigning champions, 48-41, with import Michael Dunigan dominating the boards with 21 rebounds.
The Express won for the third straight time, matching the franchise’s longest winning streak which it achieved during the Philippine Cup.
Likewise, it marked the first time Pumaren beat Cone after seven tries since assuming the coaching job of Air21 last season.
Dunigan scored a game-high 25 points, including two shot blocks, and a steal for the suddenly red-hot Express.
Denzel Bowles paced the Mixers with 24 points and 12 boards, while PJ Simon led the San Mig locals with 20.
Air21 (87) -- Dunigan 25, Cortez 13, Canaleta 11, Arboleda 10, Isip 7, Omolon 7, Wilson 4, Menor 4, Custodio 4, Baclao 2, Sena 0, Ritualo 0.
San Mig Coffee (82) -- Bowles 24, Simon 20, Yap 17, Barroca 10, Reavis 5, De Ocampo 4, Gonzales 2, Mallari 0, Gaco 0, Najorda 0, Pingris 0.
Quarterscores: 15-18, 35-31, 63-55, 87-82.