2014 PBA Philippine Cup Roundup: February 12, 2014

In last night’s first ever (I think) Manila Clasico Game 7, Ginebra got badly outplayed by the tactically superior San Mig Coffee quintet. Couple this with the hot shooting of both James Yap and PJ Simon, and, well, it was a bona fide blowout. The Mixers advance to the Philippine Cup Finals against last season’s bridesmaids — the Rain or Shine Elasto-Painters.

Marc Pingris raises his arms in triumph as the Mixers
blow the Kings out in Game 7.

Teamwork trumped talent. That’s what happened last night as the Mixers outclassed the Gin Kings in almost every possible way. Behind awesome spacing and ball distribution, coach Tim Cone’s wards executed their game plan to a T, finding people in their sweet spots all game long. Two guys, in particular, benefitted from this greatly — Rafi Reavis and Ian Sangalang. All too often during the game, both Reavis and Sangalang found themselves open close to the basket, mainly because of two things — SMC’s great spacing and Ginebra’s failure to adjust. Reavis scored 12 of his 15 in the first quarter alone, while Sangalang drilled in 15 markers in a back-up role. They shot a combined 12/14 from the field to finish with a total of 30 points on top of 19 rebounds. Most of the credit, of course, should go to Tim Cone, who exploited Ginebra’s inability to properly switch on screens. It was clear after the match that Cone convincingly outcoached his Ginebra counterpart — Ato Agustin.

Even amidst all the statistical disparities in terms of shooting, rebounding, and playmaking, there was nothing worse than Ginebra’s failing to implement proper adjustments to the way the Mixers were attacking their defense. Ginebra’s bigs kept on biting on those pumpfakes, and, more importantly, kept getting lost in those flare screens in the 2-point area. Time and again, San Mig’s bigs found themselves too open too close to the hole. This happened with impunity in the first half, but Ginebra’s brain trust just couldn’t find an effective way to counter this in the latter 24 minutes. It was a brilliant tactic by coach Cone, and coach Ato (and his platoon of deputies) just couldn’t neutralize it.

Super Shooting Guards: Both PJ Simon and James Yap are natural shooting guards, which is why it’s a bit strange everytime both guys are on the court in lieu of more natural playmakers like Mark Barroca or Alex Mallari. Still, last night this proved mightily effective, as Simon and Yap caught fire and kept the Kings at bay every time they seemed to put a short run together. Yap had his best shooting performance of the season so far, rifling in SEVEN three-pointers on his way to a game-high 30 points. Simon, for his part, did what he does best — sliding into the midrange and drilling those pull-ups. Simon shot 10/14 from the 2-point area to finish with 28 points overall. In this game, the Mixers were just too smart, too good, and too strong.

Game Recap:

- SMC wins series, 4-3.

That’s why they call him Big Game James.

San Mig Super Coffee Mixers superstar James Yap scored 24 of his 30 points in the first half to power his team to a 110-87 victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game Seven of their Manila Clasico semifinals series on Wednesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Sarap lang maglaro kasi sobrang dami ng tao,” said Yap, who shot 7-of-10 from beyond the arc apart from grabbing six rebounds.

“I’m kinda stunned,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone. “Really a stunning performance by us. Great shooting, wow! I didn’t do anything tonight, these guys did it all.”

The win gave the Mixers the final ticket to the PLDT Home DSL Philippine Cup championship round, where they are set to face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

Behind the hot hands of Yap and center Rafi Reavis, San Mig Coffee rolled to a 26-15 lead in the first quarter.

San Mig Coffee still led, 31-20, on a three-pointer by Yap early in the second quarter. But Ginebra’s main man Mark Caguioa, brandishing the never-say-die spirit, caught fire to carry his team back. Caguioa sparked a 14-3 run that allowed Ginebra to tie the game at 34-all.

But Yap returned to continue the onslaught for the Mixers, scoring 11 points in a 23-10 run that gave his team a 57-44 spread at halftime.

San Mig Coffee continued to nurse the lead in the second half, taking a 79-67 advantage heading into the final period.

Peter June Simon took over in the fourth quarter, where he scored 15 of his 28 points to keep Ginebra at bay.

He nailed two free throws with 2:53 remaining to push the lead to 18, 102-84.

“There was just too much James and PJ,” said Cone. “Phenomenal shooting like that, no one’s going to beat us tonight.”

Mark Barroca put the nail on the coffin a few moments later with a three-pointer, before Simon hit another jumper for a 107-84 bubble.

The Mixers move into the title series with the Elasto Painters in a rematch of the 2012 Governors’ Cup finals, which Rain or Shine won in a series that went the distance.

“The last time we played Rain or Shine in a series, it went seven games. Honestly, we’re a bit deeper now than we were,” said Cone, who only has one day to prepare his team for the finals, while Rain or Shine has had a weeklong rest.

“We’re gonna go in there in Game One and see what we can do.”

SMC 110 – Yap 30, Simon 28, Sangalang 15, Reavis 15, Pingris 8, Barroca 6, Mallari 6, Devance 2, Melton 0.
GIN 87 – Caguioa 23, Aguilar 17, Tenorio 16, Slaughter 12, Mamaril 6, Helterbrand 5, Ellis 4, Baracael 3, Reyes 1, Monfort 0, Urbiztondo 0.
QS: 28-20, 57-44, 79-67, 110-87

It's a treat watching James Yap catch fire
and drain those threes.

Japeth Aguilar's best game of the series
was all in vain.

Game recap is from Rey Joble/InterAKTV.

All images are by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports 5.

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