SAN Mig seeks a share of the early lead in the PBA Governors Cup when it shoots for its second straight win over San Miguel Beer in an early clash of tournament favorites on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Mixers go into the 5:15 p.m. game with the Beermen riding the crest of a 76-66 victory over Barako Bull in their first game after winning the Commissioner’s Cup title.
Coach Tim Cone admitted the pressure of winning the rare Grand Slam could be felt by the Mixers as the season-ending conference wears on.
But Cone believes as long as the team maintains its sharpness on defense, the Mixers are on pace to achieving their goal of a remarkable sweep of the entire season.
“If we continue to play the game with defense, we’ll sharpen our offense with more time,” said Cone,.
The multi-titled Cone felt that even though the pressure may get bigger as the tournament wears on, he knows his championship-tested veterans led by two-time league MVP James Yap, Joe Devance, Marc Pingris, Peter June Simon, and third-year guard Mark Barroca are capable of surviving the heat of the playoffs.
“These guys have handled pressure really well through the last three tournaments. We played a lot of knockout games and it seems the more pressure there are, the better they play,” said Cone.
Allein Maliksi returned from an eight-month hiatus and scored eight points in 15 minutes in his first game back, while reigning conference Best Import Marqus Blakely had a rough scoring debut with just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field.
The energetic 6-foot-4 San Mig import, though, grabbed 24 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks in a solid all-around effort.
Air21 currently occupies the top spot with a 2-0 record.
Meantime, San Miguel Beer will try to keep their momentum going against the Mixers as they try to ride on the broad shoulders of top MVP contender June Mar Fajardo.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore big man had a monster game on Friday after scoring a league career-high 28 points on top of 18 rebounds to lead San Miguel to a 97-92 win over Rain or Shine for its first victory in two starts.
“I think coach (Biboy Ravanes) emphasized at the start to get June Mar to start early, so the few sets we ran was to get the ball to him,” said San Miguel import Reggie Williams, who finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds.
“I’m sure he’s (Fajardo) confident, just to get his rhythm going. But I try not to force the issue, try to play the team game, and make sure everybody’s happy,” added the left-handed American, who played for five seasons in the NBA