SAN Mig Coffee’s choking defense held Rain or Shine to just a pair of field goals in the final six minutes to hack out huge 79-67 victory to live for another day in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series at the Mall of Asia Arena Saturday night.
Joe Devance, Marc Pingris, Peter June Simon, and Mark Barroca stepped up on offense as top gunner James Yap struggled all-game long, hitting big baskets in the second half.
Devance, Pingris, and Simon combined for 21 of the Mixers’ 27 fourth-quarter points. The trio also forced the Elasto Painters to numerous hurried attempts from beyond the arc, allowing the Mixers to cut Rain or Shine’s series’ lead to 3-2.
Yap, the two-time league MVP, was virtually a non-factor as he finished with only two points. He also picked up his fifth personal foul early in the third period. He only saw action for 23 minutes and shot just 1-of-7 from the floor.
“Two things I like to say: in this game, everybody stepped up for their brother or their leader, for James,” said coach Tim Cone afterwards.
“And they talked about it. That’s what they did. And we only had JC (Intal) playing limited minutes. Wesley (Gonzales) played his heart out even with limited minutes. Jonas (Villanueva) came out with the minutes he had.
“I’m really proud of those guys doing it. Tough game but we have to do this one game at a time. They beat us twice in a row. But we believe we can beat them twice in a row,” he added.
Coming out with a lot more aggressiveness and pride, the Mixers showcased their vaunted defense by holding the Elasto Painters to just 32.9 percent (28-of-85) shooting overall.
So effective was the Mixers’ that only Larry Rodriguez ended up scoring in double-figures for Rain or Shine with 14 points.
Paul Lee, last season’s top rookie, again had a sub-par performance, finishing with just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting overall. The 6-foot- guard out of University of the East finished with just two points in a winning cause in Game 4.
Jeff Chan, the team’s scoring leader, also had a miserable night with just three points on 1of-8 shooting.
Four of the Mixers’ starters played 37 minutes or more, but Cone said he’s not concerned about fatigue catching up on his players in any way.
“They played heavy minutes tonight. Third game in five nights, but they (starters) dug deep. They played some heavy, heavy minutes. But we’ll have few days off and then recover, then see what we can do in Game 6,” said Cone.
Devance led the Mixers with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and two steals in 37 minutes of play.
Pingris, San Mig Coffee’s bullstrong power forward, added a series-high 18 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and one block in 44 minutes of action.
Game 6 is set on January 3 at 6:45 p.m., with the Mixers hoping to equalize the series to forge a winner-take-all Game 7.
San Mig Coffee (79) -- Devance 20, Pingris 18, Simon 16,Barroca 11, Reavis 6, Villanueva 3, Gonzales 3, Yap 2, Intal 0.
Rain or Shine (67) -- Rodriguez 14, Cruz 9, Lee 8, Ibanes 8, Matias 7, Norwood 5, Belga 4, Quinahan 4, Tang 3, Chan 3, Tiu 2, Arana 0.
Quarterscores: 17-15; 31-29; 52-50; 79-67.