A hurting Marc Pingris gave San Mig Super Coffee a huge emotional lift in the final period of a 70-65 win over Alaska to force a rubber match in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-three quarterfinal series on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers detonated 16 unanswered points in an eight-minute stretch of the fourth quarter that turned an eight-point deficit into a 67-57 advantage in the final 76 seconds of Game 2.
The defending champion Aces came alive late in the game behind an 8-3 run, but their rally fell short and allowed San Mig to level the series at 1-all.
“It’s just grind it out basketball, pure and simple. That’s what we try to do in the second half,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone, who had to take a deep breath before addressing sports scribes at the media room for his post-game interview.
Cone admitted the Mixers had difficulty finding cracks in the Aces’ defense, which was the biggest reason why the game ended in another low-scoring fashion.
But with Pingris providing hustle, energy, and some inside scoring, the Mixers managed to claw back successfully from a 12-point hole and live to fight another day.
“Ping stepped up and played big for us,” said Cone, commending the gutsy San Mig forward, who has been playing through a painful bruised left rib in the series.
“I was hoping that bruised rib injury would give him a break, and hopefully, now he’s got a break and recovering from it and get to that emotional level,” he added.
The energetic Gilas Pilipinas mainstay led the Mixers with 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, atoning for his anemic Game 1 performance that saw him finish with just four points and five boards in 25 foul-plagued minutes.
Joe Devance added 13, while import James Mays chipped in a quiet 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Robert Dozier, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup Best Import, led the Aces with 22 points, but only had five the rest of the second half.
Veteran Dondon Hontiveros was the only other double-figure scorer for Alaska with 16 points and seven rebounds.
San Mig Coffee (70) -- Pingris 17, Devance 13, Mays 12, Barroca 10, Yap 9, Simon 4, Sanggalang 2, Reavis 2, Mallari 1, Melton 0.
Alaska (65) -- Dozier 22, Hontiveros 16, Baguio 7, Casio 6, Jazul 6, Abueva 4, Thoss 3, Manuel 1, Reyes 0, Dela Cruz 0, Espinas 0.
Quarterscores: 12-16; 24-36; 49-50; 70-65.