2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Semifinals: SMC brings Air 21 back to earth in Game 2!

PJ Simon stepped up anew as SMC bounced back in Game 2 to
beat Asi Taulava and the Express.

For the better part of this conference, James Mays has been a bit of an enigma. There have been games where he has been unstoppable, but there have also been games where he’s been mediocre. So far in this series against the upstart Express, however, the former Clemson Tiger has put together two of his best games of the Commish Cup. After racking up 27-17-6-5-2 in Game 1, Mays put up 25-23-5-1-1 last night as the Mixers beat Air 21, 82-75, to square their semis series at 1-all. After being less-than-stellar against reigning Best Import Rob Dozier in the quarterfinals, Mays has really blossomed here, putting up really high efficiency numbers against Air 21. Needless to say, if he continues to produce at this rate, maybe not even the vastly-improved Express can derail SMC.

James Mays goes up strong against the Express.

As for Mays’s counterpart on the other end, Wesley Witherspoon struggled big time, scoring a conference-low 8 points on an atrocious 3/13 FG shooting. The usually prolific import missed all 5 of his three-point attempts just two days after making 4/7 in Game 1. Prior to this game, the former Memphis Tiger normed better than 3.5 triples per outing. He also didn’t do much else, hauling down just 6 rebounds and coughing up the ball 4 times. The 6’9 wingman will surely look to bounce back in Game 3 as Air 21 hopes to continue its fairy tale adventure. 

Bakcourt Back-ups: With James Yap continuing to struggle with his shot (the former UE Red Warrior was 2/14 from the floor), coach Tim Cone had to turn, once again, to PJ Simon to provide the scoring punch from the perimeter. Simon, of course, didn’t disappoint. He has been playing a little out-of-position lately because usual starting PG Mark Barroca has been coming off the pine, but Simon has still been quite effective. Simon has been norming 12.4 points per game this conference, and he came through once more, delivering 13 markers as the Mixers’ top-scoring local here. He was ably backstopped by rookie Justin Melton, who was a spark off the bench with 12 points in just 10 minutes of play. The high-flying rookie guard made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc.

PJ Simon continues to step up for the Mixers.

Game recap by Rey Joble/InterAKTV:


The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers repulsed a fourth quarter charge from the upstart Air 21 Express to hold on for an 82-75 victory in Game Two of the PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup series on Thursday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Mixers ended the Express’ surprising unbeaten streak in the playoffs to tie the best-of-five series at 1-all.

“We came back to our character. We are a defensive team. We came back to the tempo we wanted to be in,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone, whose team allowed Air 21 to score 103 points in the series opener.

San Mig Coffee took control of the game late in the second quarter, ending the half with a furious 16-3 run for a commanding 50-34 lead at the break.

The run was sparked by San Mig Coffee’s energy unit featuring Justin Melton, Mark Barroca, and Alex Mallari on the floor.

“Our second group came out, Justin and Mark and Alex came out, created some offense on their defense,” said Cone.

With their airtight defense scuttling the Air 21 attack, the Mixers kept the Express at bay for most of the second half as the lead ballooned to 20 points, 77-57, early in the final period.

But San Mig Coffee took a big blow after import James Mays, who had been dominating the game, picked up his fifth foul.

With the Mixers reinforcement glued to the bench, the Express pounced with a 13-0 run to cut their deficit to seven points, 77-70.

Air 21, however, could not make any more headway before Mays returned to put on the finishing touches for San Mig Coffee.

Mays finished with 25 points, 23 rebounds, and five assists. He handily won his matchup with Air 21 counterpart Wesley Witherspoon, who was held by the San Mig Coffee defense to just eight points.

Cone warned, however, that the Express are far from done.

“Air 21, they’re a confident team at this point. They’re not gonna fall back,” said Cone.

SMC 82 – Mays 25, Simon 13, Melton 12, Devance 10, Pingris 6, Barroca 6, Yap 5, Sangalang 4, Reavis 1, Mallari 0.
AIR 75 – Taulava 21, Cardona 20, Yeo 9, Witherspoon 8, Anthony 8, Borboran 3, Villanueva 2, Ramos 2, Burtscher 2, Poligrates 0, Camson 0.
QS: 25-20, 50-34, 70-55, 82-75

Despite Asi Taulava being in the best shape of his life,
the Express struggled in Game 2.

Mac Cardona shoots a three-ball early in transition against James Yap.

Images are by Pranz Kaeno Billones/Sports 5.

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