Big Game James shoots San Mig Coffee over Ginebra, one step away from finals · Saturday, February 8, 2014 · 5:45 pm
Sports5 file/Pranz Kaeno Billones
Sports5 file/Pranz Kaeno Billones

James Yap hit the go-ahead three-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining to lift the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers to a thrilling 79-76 victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game Five of their PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup semifinals series on Saturday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Manila Clasico, it should come down to the last possession,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone, who drew up the play for Mark Barroca to feed Yap for the shot. “Nice pass by Mark, James got the shot.”

The victory gave the Mixers a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven affair. San Mig Coffee can close out the series on Monday also at the Big Dome, with Rain or Shine waiting in the wings as the first finalist in the tournament.

It was a tight contest for most of the game, with the score still tied at 57-all late in the third period. But San Mig Coffee once again drew a spark from the backcourt combination of Mark Barroca and Justin Melton, who led a 9-0 attack that gave their team a 66-57 lead.

San Mig Coffee still led, 70-69, before Japeth Aguilar scored five of the next six points for Ginebra to cut the deficit to a single point.

Yap replied with a layup for San Mig Coffee, but Chris Ellis answered right back with a three-pointer for Ginebra to tie the game at 72-all.

Rafi Reavis scored to give the Mixers back the lead, before Greg Slaughter hit a putback a couple of plays later to tie the game anew, 74-all, with 52 seconds remaining.

Marc Pingris drew a foul from Slaughter in the ensuing possession, but made only one of two free throws for a 75-74 edge with 40 seconds left.

Ellis nailed a fadeaway jumper in Ginebra’s next play to put the Gin Kings up, 76-75, with 22.9 seconds remaining.

But the Mixers remained poised, perfectly executing coach Tim Cone’s play to set up Yap’s winning jumper from the left wing. It was redemption for Yap, who struggled on 3-of-15 shooting from the field.

Ginebra had a chance to tie the game, but LA Tenorio was well-defended in his layup attempt in the next play.

“Mark played wonderful defense on LA on that possession,” said Cone.

Justin Melton recovered the miss and was fouled. He split his free throws for a 79-76 lead with seven seconds left, giving Ginebra one last shot. But with Ginebra needing a three-point shot, Tenorio took the ball all the way to the basket, missing another layup to end the game.

“You get caught up in the moment. I wasn’t also sure if we’re up by two or three,” said Cone in defense of Tenorio, whom he coached at Alaska. “LA’s one of the smartest players I’ve been around.”

Barroca scored 14 points to lead five San Mig Coffee players in double-figures.

Ellis finished with 20 points, while Jay-R Reyes added 11. But no other Ginebra player scored in double-digits. The Gin Kings as a whole shot just 35.8 percent from the field.

Despite the series advantage, Cone played down any idea that the series is over.

“It’s just a one-game lead,” said Cone. “This game doesn’t mean much, but we gotta finish it off.”

The scores:

SAN MIG SUPER COFFEE 79 – Barroca 14, Pingris 12, Simon 10, Reavis 10, Yap 10, Mallari 8, Devance 7, Sangalang 6, Melton 2.

GINEBRA 76 – Ellis 20, Reyes 11, Aguilar 9, Slaughter 9, Tenorio 9, Caguioa 6, Baracael 5, Helterbrand 5, Mamaril 2, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0.

Quarters: 21-21, 46-44, 62-57, 79-76

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