San Mig: Great blend, great champ
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A walkout and a big rally by Rain or Shine; and a slip, recovery and rise all the way to the summit by San Mig Coffee.

In one of the most dramatic and thrilling championship battles ever seen in the league, the San Mig Coffee Mixers outfought the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 93-87, to complete an epic journey making them the bewildered champs at the conclusion of the PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.

The Mixers got off to a swashbuckling start, temporarily lost momentum after an RoS walkout attempt in the second quarter, then recovered and hung tough to the finish to nail the coveted championship before a roaring crowd of over 20,000 at the Big Dome.

San Mig Coffee just improved its legacy with its first back-to-back championships and an unprecedented sixth all-Filipino crown while coach Tim Cone finally surpassed one of the longest standing records in the league (coach Baby Dalupan’s 15 titles) with his 16th.

Mark Barroca took over the game in the crunch, scoring 14 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, and bagged the Papa John’s Pizza Finals MVP Award.

“I didn’t expect all these. I didn’t even think we would take a lead in the series. We just gave our best. Then yung mga maliliit na bagay nagsamasama, and this is it,” said Barroca.

“Look at this series, four or five games could’ve gone either way, and it’s awesome to win it,” said the winning coach.

“The players are awesome. They worked very hard for this. Many times, we could’ve quit, pulled out camp but we didn’t,” Cone also said, amazed at their triumphant ride after a poor 1-5 tournament start.

Finishing only fifth in the elimination round, San Mig Coffee defied tremendous odds, topping fourth-ranked Talk n Text in the quarterfinals, third seed Petron in the semifinals and, finally, second ranked Rain or Shine in the finals.

The Mixers beat the Elasto Painters, 4-2, in the best-of-seven finale with earlier triumphs in Game One, Game Three and Game Four.

The game was stopped for about 10 minutes at the outset of the second quarter with coach Yeng Guiao calling on his team to abandon the game in protest of what he felt was a spotty officiating going against them.

But Guiao and the E-Painters returned to the floor after talks by commissioner Chito Salud with team owner Raymond Yu and governor Mert Mondragon.

Nonetheless, under revised league rules on walkouts, Rain or Shine now faces a possible heavy sanction for its walkout attempt. It’s P2 million if it’s ruled “a partial walkout.”

PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial said the league commissioner makes the decision after a meeting with RoS officials.

As the league commissioner ordered to start running the 15-minute grace period, the E-Painters were back on the bench and ready to return to play in 90 seconds.

At the resumption of play, the Mixers stretched a 30-17 lead to 49-32, but then the Elasto Painters found a way to get back into the game, 43-49, at the half.

The E-Painters roared on in the third period and surged ahead, 62-60, on a three-pointer by Chris Tiu.

Rain or Shine was the fourth team in league history to stage a walkout. Anejo Rum (P550,000 in 1990) and Talk n Text (P1 million in 2010) were heavily fined for walking out and refusing to finish a playoff game. Red Bull had its walkout attempt in 2006 but returned to play in time.

NOTES: Ali Peek, the third pick in the 1998 PBA Draft, announced in his Twitter account yesterday he’s done playing. He hung his jersey at age 39 and in his 16th season in the league. He embellished his long career with one Mythical First Team citation, one Second Mythical Team honors, one Sportsmanship Award and three All-Star Game stints..The list of mports seeing action in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup is now complete with San Miguel Beer signing up former New Jersey Net starting center Josh Boone and Barako Bull enlisting Joshua Dollard in place of original prospect Dwayne Chism.

The scores:

San Mig Coffee 93 – Barroca 24, Sangalang 15, Devance 12, Pingris 12, Yap 10, Simon 9, Reavis 5, Mallari 4, Melton 2.

Rain or Shine 87 – Lee 23, Belga 21, Cruz 11, Chan 7, Quiñahan 6, Rodriguez 6, Araña 5, Tiu 3, Ibañes 3, Norwood 2, Almazan 0, Tang 0.

Quarterscores: 30-17, 49-43, 66-67, 93-87

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