Rival coaches Tim Cone and Gee Abanilla both agreed that defense is the key as San Mig Coffee and Petron Blaze clash to break a 2-2 tie today in the best-of-seven titular series of the 38th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governor’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Coffee Mixers bounced back strong by taking Game Four, 88-86, on Friday to reduce the long series to a best-of-three affair. Game time today is set at 4:45 p.m.
Though they squandered a hefty 28-point lead in the second quarter, the Coffee Mixers survived the Blaze Boosters relentless attack courtesy of Mark Barroca, Peter June Simon and Alex Mallari, who combined for five points down-the-stretch all from the stripe to avenge their 68-90 setback in Game Three on Wednesday. Petron won Game One (100-84) but lost Game Two (93-100)
“It was really hard to catch up from that big lead by San Mig. We will not allow it again. We will come out more prepared on Sunday. We gonna play heads up,” said rookie coach Abanilla.
Cone, however, praised Petron for a strong come back during Friday’s game, saying the Blaze Boosters are truly an explosive team.
“But winning by just one point or 30 points is just the same thing. We got to keep playing forward. We are looking forward to Sunday’s game,” stressed Cone, winner of 14 conference titles in the professional league.
Two-time MVP James Yap and guard Mark Barroca vowed to lead San Mig Coffee with focus on defense.
“It was our defense that carried us through. That’s why we have a good start. But we have to be consistent to win the game,” said Yap and Barroca, who held Petron to only 13 points in the first quarter and only 29 in the first half.
The 6’10 Cebuano slotman June Mar Fajardo, who lost the “Rookie of the Year” plum to Calvin Abueva, continued to dominate the paint by finishing with 20 points and recorded a career high 26, rebounds on Friday. It was the highest rebound rate notched by a local in an import-laden conference since Arwind Santos’ 27 in 2011.
“We will get back on Sunday,” said Fajardo, who averaged 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in the first three games of the Finals series.