SAN Mig Super Coffee put its struggles behind it and started the year right, cutting league leader Barangay Ginebra down to size, 83-79, in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup behind a tough stand in the end.
Mark Barroca stood tall with 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Mixers, who blew an early 18-point lead but proved steadier in the endgame when the game was very much on the line.
“Well, I wish we could play this well throughout the whole conference. I guess it’s better late than never,” San Mig coach Tim Cone said after his team snapped a two-game losing streak.
It did not come.
Instead, its multitude of fans saw Ginebra collapse in a heap of turnovers and bungled wide-open shots as the Kings slumped to their first loss in seven games - and just their second in 11 games this season.
San Mig's morale-boosting win forged a five-way logjam at 4-7 with Globalport, Alaska, Barako Bull and Meralco at the bottom half of the standings, enhancing the Mixers' shot at a playoff spot.
“It’s been a tough road for us. And really, it’s been more 80 percent mental for us and 20 percent physical. It’s just getting like-minded, getting forward looking and stay in there,” said the multi-titled PBA coach.
The Mixers, one of the few teams in the league with the size to match up against Ginebra's frontline, dominated the Kings with their sizeable 62-39 advantage off the boards.
Japeth Aguilar led the Gin Kings with a personal conference-high 26 points, seven rebounds and six blocks, while his frontcourt partner Greg Slaughter added 14.
The 6-11 rookie big man out of Ateneo, though, finished with just six boards and he was effectively kept out of the paint by San Mig’s bruising frontline of Rafi Reavis, Yancy de Ocampo and Marc Pingris.