IT was less than two weeks when it toppled a giant, but Air21 seemed to have easily forgotten.
And so with a little reminding, the underdog Express once again played with nothing lose and came out a 94-91 winner over fancied San Mig Super Coffee on Monday night to send their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series to a deciding game.
“We had to come out with a lot of fun,” said Wesley Witherspoon, who was the first to remember the Express’ giant-killing ways as he pumped in eight triples en route to a game-high 32 points.
Air21 made ripples in the playoffs of the mid-season tournament when it beat second seeded San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals to arrange a Final Four showdown against San Mig Coffee.
After taking the series opener, the Express lost the next two to move on the verge of elimination and ending their Cinderella run.
“We were trying to be the serious team. That’s not who we are,” Witherspoon said. “Guys were coming out too seriously, thinking like ‘okay, we got to win, we got to win.”
“Guys forgot that the pressure’s not on us,” the American reinforcement added. “Aside from the players in the Air21 locker room, nobody thought we would be here.”
And that’s the mindset the Express have to keep in Game Five on Wednesday to pull off another stunning reversal.
“Just have fun. It’s another game. We can’t put pressure on ourselves. That’s what you got to keep preaching.”
Witherspoon had no fun at all in the two lost games, scoring a measly eight points in Game Two, before adding 19, but only two in the second half in Game Three.
“I was hard on him the past few days, so he accepted the challenge and showed his true character,” Express coach Franz Pumaren said of Witherspoon.