SAN Mig slowly gutted down a double-digit deficit behind its bench players in the fourth quarter to boot out San Miguel Beer, 97-90, and advance to the PBA Governors Cup semifinals on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Less than 24 hours after losing to Rain or Shine in its final game of the eliminations, Mixers coach Tim Cone dug deep into his bench once again by turning to Justin Melton and Allein Maliksi who responded by ably filling the gap left by injured gunner Peter June Simon.
Melton came off the bench to score 16 points, six in a crucial fourth-quarter run, while Maliksi added five that allowed the team to wrest control after being down by as much as 15 points.
The fourth-seeded and twice-to-beat Mixers then unloaded a 12-2 run to take a 93-83 lead as the Beermen ended another title-less season with a whimper.
The victory sets San Mig up for a semifinal date with Talk 'N Text, just months after their Commissioner's Cup Finals which the Mixers won, 3-1, to move on the verge of a grand slam.
As it is, the former Purefoods franchise is now six wins away from the first season sweep in the 49-year-old league since Cone's grand slam with Alaska in 1996.
“We didn’t get the word about PJ until about two hours before the game started,” Cone said. “We found out that he couldn’t even stand up at home.
"It was just shocking because we had a shootaround this morning and he looked fine there. But we didn’t know that he was stretched out on his back, so that was a big blow for us,” he added.
Marqus Blakely, the reigning Best Import, led the Mixers with 25 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks.
Reggie Williams and Arwind Santos finished with 21 points apiece while Best Player of the Conference statistical leader June Mar Fajardo added 16 and 15 rebounds for the Beermen, who were booted out of the quarterfinals for the second straight conference under active consultant Todd Purves and rookie head coach Biboy Ravanes.
San Mig’s solid defense held San Miguel to just 37.6 percent shooting from the field.
San Mig 97 - Blakely 25, Melton 16, Devance 14, Maliksi 9, Pingris 8, Sangalang 8, Yap 7, Barroca 6, Mallari 2, Reavis 2, Taha 0.
San Miguel Beer 90 - Williams 21, Santos 21, Fajardo 16, Tubid 8, Lassiter 8, Ross 5, Mercado 4, Maierhofer 3, Kramer 2, Lutz 2, Lanete 0.
Quarterscores: 14-27, 44-48, 66-70, 97-90