A SCRAPPY San Mig held off Rain or Shine behind a relentless defense, 78-69, in Game Three of the PBA Governors Finals on Saturday to move within a win of only the fifth grand slam in league history.
Showing admirable maturity while playing before a crowd of more than 17,000 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, rookie Ian Sangalang scored eight of his 15 points in a fourth-quarter run that carried the Mixers to a 2-1 lead in this fiercely fought best-of-five title series.
“Ian stepped up for us. He was the one who helped us in the run, along with Mark (Barroca) and Justin (Melton) in that little run we had in the fourth quarter,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone after seeing his team bounce back from a stinging 87-89 overtime loss just two days earlier.
Despite moving a win away from recording the first grand slam in the league since he got his first one with Alaska 18 years ago, Cone refused to talk about it, not until they finally finish off the pesky Elasto Painters.
“You can’t talk about it (grand slam) till it’s done,” he said. “We just can’t afford to do that. We have too much respect for this (Rain or Shine) team.”
Cone pointed out that the Elasto Painters are a mentally tough squad, which is why even with Saturday’s win, they can’t afford to fall into a false sense of security.
“I was just telling my guys that this is a mentally strong team you’ll play (in Game Four), so you just got to go out and compete with them every moment and every possession because they’re not gonna break. They’re not gonna fall apart,” he said.
San Mig’s tough defense proved to be the key, forcing Rain or Shine to a maze of turnovers in the fourth quarter while holding all of Rain or Shine's locals to single-digit outputs.
Jeff Chan could only finish with four points on 2-of-6 shooting, while Paul Lee had two points on a 1-of-6 clip from the floor.
Marqus Blakely also recovered from a poor shooting night in Game Two by banging in 17 points to go with 17 rebounds. Joe Devance added 10 points after going scoreless on Thursday.
Arizona Reid was the lone double-figure scorer for the Elasto Painters with 31 points.