JAMES Yap and Peter June Simon joined hands in dismantling Air21’s defense with their red-hot three-point shooting as San Mig barged into the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals with a convincing 99-83 victory in their do-or-die match on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
While Yap and Simon took care of the fireworks, import James Mays provided the steady inside presence with his tireless effort off the boards as the trio took the fight out of the Express to book San Mig's third successive trip to a league finals.
Yap and Simon each scored 11 points in the first half alone, accounting for the team’s five three-point shots when the Mixers turned a tight contest into a 50-33 halftime lead.
The Mixers turned on the heat in the second half to erect the game’s biggest lead at 71-46 midway through the third canto before coasting to the victory - their sixth in a row in a do-or-die game dating back to last season's Governors Cup.
By winning the best-of-five semifinal series 3-2, the former Purefoods franchise remained on course for a grand slam as it advanced to a potentially explosive finals showdown with unbeaten top seed Talk 'N Text.
Game One of the best-of-five finals will be on Friday, with San Mig eyeing a third straight championship and Talk 'N Text looking for its first league title since winning last season's Philippine Cup under Norman Black.
“Certainly, our guys came to play. You can see it all the way through like James and PJ came out firing, (Marc) Ping (Pingris) and Rafi (Reavis), their defense was tremendous, while big James was all over the boards. So it was a total team effort,” said a beaming San Mig coach Tim Cone, who’ll be shooting for his 17th PBA championship this conference.
Pingris and Reavis alternated in defending Air21 import Wesley Witherspoon, who torched the Mixers with eight triples in the team’s 94-91 Game Four victory but was held to just 21 points this time while taking just 15 attempts in the game.
Cone has now piloted the Mixers to their fifth Finals stint since joining the San Mig/ Purefoods franchise at the start of the 2011-12 PBA season.
The Mixers, then known as the B-Meg Llamados beat the Tropang Texters, 4-3 in the Finals behind Denzel Bowles, who was named Best Import that conference.
Interestingly, the finals will be just the second pitting Cone and Black, two multi-titled coaches who own two of only four grand slams in the pro league's 39 years.
San Mig 99 - Mays 24, Simon 18, Yap 15, Barroca 11, Mallari 10, Devance 7, Pingris 7, Reavis 5, Melton 2, Gaco 0, Sangalang 0, Cawaling 0, Holstein 0.
Air 21 83 - Witherspoon 21, Taulava 20, Cardona 13, Yeo 10, Borboran 7, Camson 6, Ramos 3, Villanueva 2, Atkins 1, Poligrates 0, Burtscher 0.
Quarterscores: 21-13, 50-33, 81-58, 99-83