Rare 4-peat, rare grand slam: San Mig completes epic tale

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - In so short a time with their brilliant coach, the San Mig Coffee Mixers have got it all.

In three years together, coach Tim Cone and the Mixers wrote a great tale of PBA dominance leading to a historic grand slam following a dramatic 92-89 win over worthy challenger the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a do-or-die game before a raucous crowd of over 23,234 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.

The Mixers made a key run in the third quarter and played tough in the face of the E-Painters’ determined fightback in the fourth, coming through with a rare, rare achievement of stringing up four straight championships.

Under a rain of multi-colored balloons and confetti, the Mixers hugged one another as they celebrated an extra special championship – the first back-to-back Governors Cup conquests by any team in the league in 14 years, the first PBA “Four-Peat” in 17 years and the first PBA grand slam in 18 years.

San Mig Coffee eventually put its name beside Crispa, San Miguel Beer and Alaska as the league’s only grand slam champion teams. 

Already the league’s winningest coach, Cone also distinguished himself as the first to engineer two grand slams. He carved out his first with Alaska Milk in 1996.

With their exploits together, Cone and the Mixers could well be remembered as the best team of their time and among the best of all time.

James Yap came out in his best form, erupting for 29 points and going on to win the Holcim Finals MVP award. It was his second straight Finals MVP plum and fourth in all, going with his two season MVP awards.

“Sobrang blessed. But I’m not the only one who worked for this,” said Yap. “Pinaghirapan namin ito lahat.”

Actually, the grand slam hung for some agonizing  moment as the Mixers went scoreless after Yap nailed the last of his killer one-hand bank shots making it 92-89 with 1:38 left to play.

AZ Reid made it 89-92 on a drive with 1:32 left, and the E-Painters found no less than five opportunities to tie.

Alas, Reid, Paul Lee and Jeff Chan blew away those chances.

Reid missed their last attempt off Marcus Blakely and Mark Barroca at the buzzer, and the Mixers and the predominantly San Mig crowd erupted to an instant party, celebrating their 13 championships.

“It doesn’t hit me yet. I’m overwhelmed,” said Cone as he tucked under his belt a record 18th crown.

“I’m just so happy for the guys. It’s an honor to watch this guys do this incredible thing,” Cone also said. “I don’t know if it’s the hardest (grand slam). It should be one of the hardest.”

The Mixers pulled off the Triple Crown in winning the Philippine Cup diadem over the E-Painters, the Commissioner’s Cup championship over the Talk n Text Tropang Texters and the Governors Cup again over the E-Painters.

“We did it winning a do-or-die game again. We won the Commissioner’s Cup via sudden death and I thought it’s not gonna happen this time. But the guys again found a way,” said Cone.

Blakely delivered a near triple-double with 20 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, Marc Pingris came up with a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds and Joe Devance and PJ Simon also played so well in this huge last game of the season.

“It’s just amazing to watch these guys play,” said Cone.

The scores:

San Mig Coffee 92 – Yap 29, Blakely 20, Devance 11, Pingris 10, Simon 10, Barroca 6, Maliksi 4, Sangalang 2, Mallari 0, Reavis 0, Melton 0.

Rain or Shine 89 – Reid 23, Lee 21, Almazan 11, Norwood 11, Belga 7, Chan 6, Araña 4, Uyloan 2, Cruz 2, Tiu 2, Ibañes 0, Rodriguez 0.

Quarterscores: 23-16, 43-38, 73-70, 92-89

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