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Manila Clasico tuneup ends in thrilling draw

Alder Almo (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2014 - 7:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -- Gauging from the pre-season game that was played in a playoff atmosphere, expect Manila Clasico to be as close as you could get this coming Philippine Cup.

Brgy. Ginebra and San Mig Coffee evenly matched in a game of runs that ended in a 92-all deadlock on Saturday before a big crowd at the Ronac Art Center in San Juan.

Japeth Aguilar energized the Kings with 22 points before fouling out midway the fourth quarter while LA Tenorio chipped in seven and restored order in the backcourt in their return from Gilas stint. Meanwhile, the trio of James Yap, Mark Barroca and Alex Mallari each had 10 in well-balanced effort by the Mixers, who played minus Marc Pingris that was given a three-week rest.

“These guys (Aguilar and Tenorio) are not only playing lots of basketball. They just came here this week, but they just lifted the spirits of the guys," Brgy. Ginebra coach Jeffrey Cariaso told reporters after the draw.

For his part, San Mig coach Tim Cone says his team is on target despite losing six preseason games and drawing this one.

"We hate losing but I like what I'm seeing. We're improving and we're on target as much as preparation for the coming season is concerned," Cone told Philstar.com after the game.

The Kings, behind early nine points from Greg Slaughter, jumped off to a 25-17 lead in the opening quarter and even extended it to 11 points, 32-21, on a Mark Caguioa post move.

But the Mixers rallied behind Barroca and Mallari's stellar plays plus Isaac Holstein's surprise six points all in the second quarter to turn the game around. The Mixers took a 44-39 halftime lead.

With Kings' big men in foul trouble, the Mixers continued to pounce on them and grew their lead to a dozen, 71-59, on Mallari's three-point play in the closing minutes of the third.

Aguilar returned despite his foul trouble and combined with Billy Mamaril and Joseph Yeo in a big run that helped the Kings grabbed the lead back, 90-86, to set up the thrilling finish.

Taha and Joe Devance tied the game for one last time as both teams traded with botched plays in the endgame.

Mamaril added 14 points while Slaughter finished with 11, only two since the opening quarter. 

Sangalang led the Mixers with 14 while Taha chipped in nine to counter the Kings' imposing frontline.  

AGUILAR AND TENORIO BARROCA AND MALLARI BILLY MAMARIL AND JOSEPH YEO BRGY BUT THE MIXERS GINEBRA AND SAN MIG COFFEE GREG SLAUGHTER ISAAC HOLSTEIN JAMES YAP JAPETH AGUILAR JEFFREY CARIASO
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