SAN Mig buckled down to work in the third quarter, unloading an 17-2 blitz to turn a tight ballgame into a one-sided 97-84 victory over Air21 in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers relied on a defense that held the Express to just a single field goal in the last six minutes of the third canto to snap out of a two-game skid and revive their hopes for a top two finish - and twice-to-beat advantage at the end of the eliminations.
“We played with a lot more togetherness and connection in the third quarter,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone, whose team came out with a lot more energy in the second half after leading by just one, 45-44 at the half.
“We connected a lot better than we have been over the last couple of games. I felt coming out of halftime, we had a better sense of urgency, something we lacked in the past games,” he added.
At 4-6 (win-loss), San Mig is just a half game behind second placer San Miguel Beer (5-2) ahead of their showdown on Saturday that would more or less determine their final positioning for the playoffs.
The loss dropped Air21 to a three-way tie for sixth to eighth spots with idle Barangay Ginebra and Meralco with two games left in its elimination round schedule.
Peter June Simon banged in 20 points to key the Mixers’ blazing second-half offensive, supporting import James Mays finished with a team-high 23 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks despite running into foul trouble starting in the third quarter.
Wesley Witherspoon led the Express with 27 points and 16 rebounds. But the former Memphis Tiger was held down to just nine points in the final half.
Sean Anthony scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds in his first game for the Express. Joseph Yeo scored all 11 of his points in the second half while Macmac Cardona added 10 for Air21, which will have two tough opponents in its last two games.