SAN Mig Coffee survived a horrible second-half meltdown behind some timely breaks in the endgame to eke out a pulsating 88-86 win over a fighting Petron side and forge a 2-2 tie in their PBA Governors Cup championship series on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Mark Barroca and rookie Alex Mallari combined for three crucial free throws in the end to hold off Petron, who stormed back from a 28-point deficit but shot itself in the foot when star Arwind Santos made a turnover off a wild inbound pass on the night he was named league MVP.
The great escape kept the Mixers from going down 1-3 in the best-of-seven series as they bounced back from a lopsided loss in Game Three to bring the Finals back to square one.
“As I’ve said before, a one point win is the same thing as a 30-point win. They (Boosters) just showed how explosive a team they are to come back hard and do it that quickly,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone, more relieved than anything else after the close call.
The Boosters battled back from 28 down behind import Elijah Millsap, who scored 17 of his game-high 33 points in the third period.
Rookie big man June Mar Fajardo also registered his first 20-20 output in the Finals after logging in 20 points and grabbing a career-high 26 boards for the Blaze Boosters.
“I think, our vision and our goal is to do things right, be good at it and continue to improve. This is one phase of trying to finishing our goal as we try to work on the things we need to work on,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla.
Santos struggled in Game Four after scoring just eight points on four-of-10 shooting. He was held down to just three rebounds, while committing a crucial turnover in the dying seconds that hastened Petron’s downfall.
Marqus Blakely led the Mixers with 19 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and five steals, while Marc Pingris and James Yap added 15 and 14, respectively.
Yap, however, missed two free throws that made things interesting in the final seconds.
Fortunately for San Mig, Blakely was able to tie up Millsap in the battle for the rebound and win the ensuing jump ball, leading to the free throw by the rookie Mallari that made it 88-86 with three seconds left.
Marcio Lassiter missed a desperation heave from the backcourt as time expired.
San Mig Coffee 88 - Blakely 19, Pingris 15, Yap 14, Barroca 12, Simon 12, Devance 11, Mallari 4, Reavis 1.
Petron 86 - Millsap 33, Fajardo 20, Lassiter 13, Santos 8, Lutz 6, Kramer 2, Miranda 2, Tubid 2, Deutchman 0, Lanete 0, Hubalde 0.
Quarterscores: 33-13, 52-29, 67-63, 88-86