SAN Mig made two big defensive stops in the endgame to pull off a 77-76 win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday night and seize the initiative in the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers trailed most of the way and couldn't make the baskets to put Rain or Shine away in the endgame, but twice reduced the Painters into throwing desperate jumpers from way, way out in their final possessions.
The last of those two Rain or Shine offensives ended with Jeff Chan missing a three-point try from a full step away from the three-point arc, allowing San Mig to win its second straight game in the series and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.
"What an awesome game. That (Game Three) was tough one to be a part off, but still, we were a bit shaky because it was a back and forth game," said San Mig coach Tim Cone, more relieved than anything else after the lowest-scoring Finals game in almost six years.
San Mig's offense may be wanting, but Cone couldn't be any happier with a defense that held Rain or Shine to just one field goal in the final four minutes.
Jervy Cruz's basket inside off Gabe Norwood's drop pass slashed San Mig's lead to 76-77 with 1:25 to go in the game, but both teams failed to buy another basket again in the game.
San Mig had an opportunity to extend the lead but James Yap airballed a long three-point heave from about 25 feet, giving the Elasto Painters the chance to grab the lead with about 10.6 ticks to go.
"We just kept finding ways to stay in the game, stay in the game, and down to the last few possessions," said Cone. "But I thought the guys played a little tired tonight."
The American mentor also commended big men Joe Devance and Marc Pingris.
Devance, who turned 32 on Wednesday, finished with four assists, 13 points and nine rebounds while Pingris had five assists to go with seven points and eight rebounds in another all-around effort.
Paul Lee led the Elasto Painters with 23 points, but couldn't get a clear look to the basket with Rafi Reavis covering him during the dying seconds of the match, leading to Chan's desperation three-point attempt.
Chan finished with 11 points.
San Mig 77 - Simon 14, Devance 13, Yap 13, Sangalang 12, Barroca 8, Pingris 7, Mallari 5, Reavis 4, Melton 1, De Ocampo 0.
Rain or Shine 76 - Lee 23, Chan 11, Cruz 10, Almazan 7, Belga 6, Rodriguez 6, Quinahan 5, Norwood 4, Tiu 2, Ibanes 2, Tang 0, Teng 0.
Quarterscores: 19-20, 38-39, 63-64, 77-76