SAN Mig's relentless defense cut off Talk ‘N Text's long line of success on Friday night, dealing the Tropang Texters their first defeat in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup with a 95-80 hammering in Game One of the Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Two-time league MVP James Yap’ red-hot shooting all game long inspired the Mixers, who entered the best-of-five title series as the clear underdogs against a Talk 'N Text team that went unbeaten in its first 13 games games.
But that changed at the onset of the second half, when a ruthless San Mig defense forced a series of Talk 'N Text turnovers that helped the Mixers turn a 44-40 halftime edge into a 66-49 bubble.
“I think a couple things happened tonight. One, we carried our momentum (from) the last (game against Air21). I thought that carried over and that kind of gave us some kind of a mental lift,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone.
By taking a 1-0 lead in the series, San Mig, coming off a taxing semifinal playoff against Air21 that went the full five games, moved two wins away from a third successive championship.
San Mig continued its relentless defensive job in the final period, forcing Talk ‘N Text to settle for hurried shots from the outside, while guards Mark Barroca, Peter June Simon and Yap led the team’s transition baskets to complete the Mixers’ demolition job.
Cone, now eyeing his 17th PBA coaching title, explained that breaking Talk ‘N Text’s 13-game winning run this conference was no big deal considering that they are aiming for no less than the championship.
“Breaking a streak is just like a pogi point and frankly, this team I coach right now, is not out for the pogi point,” stressed Cone. “But we just got one game in the series. We want to win a championship. These guys realized there are more important things than looking good.”
Six players scored in double figures for the Mixers led by Yap who finished with a team-high 17 points, while Simon added 16.
Barroca and rookie forward Ian Sangalang added 12 points apiece, while import James Yap chipped in 10 and 12 boards.
Marc Pingris also scored 10 points and added seven rebounds.
The Tropang Texters drew 17 points from Jason Castro, but the spitfire guard shot just 3-of-15 from the field. Import Richard Howell scored just 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Mixers’ frontline successfully took his inside game away.
San Mig 95 - Yap 17, Simon 16, Barroca 12, Sangalang 12, Mays 10, Pingris 10, Devance 7, Mallari 5, Reavis 4, Melton 2, De Ocampo 0, Gaco 0.
Talk 'N Text 80 - Castro 17, Reyes 13, Williams 12, Howell 11, Canaleta 9, De Ocampo 5, Fonacier 5, Alpag 3, Seigle 2, Reyes Rob 1, Reyes Jai 1, Carey 1, Aban 0, Baclao 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17, 44-40, 70-57, 95-80