2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals: Mixers pounce on TNT’s errors to steal a 2-1 series lead!

(Top) Joe Devance celebrates as the Mixers steal Game 3.
(Bottom) Jayson Castro raises the Best Player of the Conference plaque before tip-off.

Once again, San Mig Super Coffee’s supreme shooting guards came through in this one. PJ Simon broke the game’s final deadlock right before the last two minutes of the game and James Yap made a couple of big plays in the clutch to help the Mixers beat the Tropang Texters in Game 3, 77-75. With SMC down, 71-75, after two straight treys by TNT, Yap fed James Mays down low for an and-one and then hit the critical fadeaway over Kelly Williams off a broken play for the last lead change, 76-75. Yap didn’t shoot particularly well for the whole game (4/12), but he did come up big when it counted the most. He ended up with 13 points, while Simon poured in 17 markers on 7/10 FG shooting.

Big Game James lived up to his name anew as SMC moves
just one win away from the Commish Cup title.

The Texters, after back-to-back triples from Ranidel De Ocampo and recently named Best Player of the Conference Jayson Castro, looked primed to pocket Game 3, but, instead, they bungled some opportunities in the endgame that sealed their unfortunate fate. With Mays on him and TNT holding on to a precarious 1-point lead, Castro chose to shoot the three with a lot of time left on the shotclock. He missed that, and, in the next sequence, Yap hit his big jumper. In the ensuing play, Castro and RDO dropped the ball, too, quite literally, as RaniDirk threw what probably was the worst pass of his illustrious career towards Castro, who couldn’t handle the rock, leading to an out of bounds call. After Joe Devance split his freebies in the next play, Castro missed the potential game-winning lean-in jumper as time expired. Castro and RDO paired up for 39 points to lead TNT, but they’ll need to make headier plays in Game 4 to prevent an unconventional SMC grand slam.

Best Import of the Game: James Mays fell way short of being the Best Import of the Conference, which went to TNT’s Richard Howell, but he stepped up big time here, dropping 20 points on 9/15 FG shooting to lead SMC in the huge win. He also grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked 5 shots, had 4 assists, and got 2 steals, outplaying Howell on both ends. It will be interesting to see how Howell will respond to this in Game 4 and whether Mays can continue putting up such big numbers to try and close out the Texters.

Game recap by Rey Joble/InterAKTV:


James Yap hit a tough go-ahead jumper with 28 seconds remaining to lift the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers to a thrilling 77-75 victory over the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters on Tuesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The victory gave the Mixers a 2-1 series lead, one victory away from winning the PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup.

“It was a game for the ages, two proud teams that don’t quit and keep fighting,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone, who has a chance to lead the Mixers to a third straight PBA title.

“We have total respect for TNT.”

The two heavyweight teams traded haymakers throughout the game, with neither team backing down.

Peter June Simon put the Mixers up by a basket, 71-69, with 2:23 left to break the game’s final deadlock.

Ranidel De Ocampo responded with a three-pointer off a Ryan Reyes penetration to give the Tropang Texters the lead.

After Talk ‘N Text forced a stop, Jayson Castro nailed his own three-pointer off the backboard for a 75-71 edge.

But the Mixers came right back with Yap feeding James Mays for a three-point play that cut the Talk ‘N Text lead to one point, 75-74, with 1:07 left.

Castro, who was named Best Player of the Conference before the game, missed a three-point attempt on the next possession, giving the Mixers a chance to take the lead.

Marc Pingris looked trapped on the baseline on the Mixers attack, but made a bailout pass to Yap. The two-time Most Valuable Player calmly dribbled right before nailing the tough fadeaway over the long arms of Kelly Williams to put San Mig Coffee up, 76-75.

Talk ‘N Text had a chance to strike back, but De Ocampo threw the ball away with just 6.9 seconds left.

The Tropang Texters were forced to foul Joe Devance on the next play. Devance split free throws for a 77-75 lead, giving Talk ‘N Text one final chance.

But Castro desperation shot at the buzzer hit the back iron, giving the Mixers the win.

“At the end, our defense made a big stop and that was the key,” said Cone.

After the game, Cone paid tribute to his veteran crew of Yap, Simon, and Marc Pingris, who was tasked to contain the sensational Castro for most of the game.

“I’m really proud of Ping and James and PJ,” said Cone. It was that core along with Mays and Devance that form the team’s starting five, who scored 67 of San Mig Coffee’s total.

San Mig Coffee can wrap up the series on Thursday at PhilSports Arena.

SMC 77 – Mays 20, Simon 17, Yap 13, Devance 10, Pingris 7, Sangalang 6, Barroca 2, Mallari 2, De Ocampo 0, Reavis 0, Melton 0.
TNT 75 – Castro 21, De Ocampo 18, Canaleta 12, Howell 10, Williams 5, Carey 5, Reyes Ryan 4, Reyes Rob 0, Aban 0, Fonacier 0, Alapag 0.
QS: 25-15, 37-35, 60-56, 77-75

Jayson Castro is named the Best Player of the Conference.

Joe Devance reacts after the Texters bungle a pass.

PJ Simon steps up again for the SMC Mixers.

Richard Howell is named the Best Import of the Conference.

Images are by Paolo Papa and Pranz Kaeno Billones/Sports 5.

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