Hot then cold after 28-PT margin: Mixers eke out win, even series

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran - The Philippine Star

Game tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum) 4:45 p.m. – Petron vs San Mig Coffee



MANILA, Philippines - They watched the Petron Blaze Boosters  steal the show in the Leo Awards. In the main event,  the San Mig Coffee Mixers stole the thunder, winning the crucial fourth game of their championship series.

The Mixers blew away a 28-point first-half lead but outfought the Boosters in a battle in the crunch, salvaging an 88-86 decision that forced a 2-2 standoff in the PLDT Telpad PBA Governors Cup best-of-seven title playoff at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay last night.

Guards Mark Barroca, PJ Simon and Alex Mallari knocked in important charities as the Mixers avoided what could have been a fatal finish and instead pumped back life to their bid for a 10th crown.

Bouncing back from their 68-90 blowout loss in Game Three, the Mixers narrowed the series to a best-of-three affair.

The opposing teams fight for the pivotal 3-2 series lead in Game Five over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tomorrow.

“Mark Barroca hit a couple of big shots and we’re glad to be at 2-2 at this point. We’re looking forward to Sunday,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.

“We allowed San Mig to get a big lead and it’s really hard to catch up. We managed to catch up and we got the upper hand but then we ran into bad breaks,” said Petron coach Gee Abanilla.

The Boosters did wage a big fight after a woeful first half but the Mixers made their stand, spoiling the night when Petron ace players gained the lion’s share in the season-end annual awards.

Petron took sometime to shake off the distractions of the Leo Awards, throwing bricks at the start and trailing by as many as 28 at 21-49.

The Mixers hit at a 74-percent clip while the Boosters struggled with a 32-percent shooting as San Mig got to a blazing start and took the opening quarter at 33-15.

Elijah Millsap put in 27 of his game-high 33 points in the second half and Junmar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter give the team a lift, and the Boosters came alive and surged ahead, 73-71, in the fourth quarter.

The Mixers, however, refused to panic, going to Barroca, Simon and Mallari for clutch charities that bailed them out.

Arwind Santos, the biggest winner in the Leo Awards, failed to extend his moment in the succeeding game, missing a crucial shot then committing a grievous error in the last 30 seconds of play.

The score was tied at 83-all when Santos muffed an inside-the-key jumper. Then after Barroca shattered the deadlock with two charities, the season MVP winner made an errant throw-in, paving the way for Simon’s own charities to make it 87-83.

In the dying seconds, Petron actually still had a chance to steal the game but Lassiter’s desperation heave didn’t hit the mark.

“This game showed how explosive a team they are. They came  back quickly and that fast,” said Cone.

“We just said in the fourth that we can’t regret losing the lead. We got to play it from here and we got to keep playing forward,” Cone also said.











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