2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Semifinals: Express just won’t quit! They force Game 5!

Contrary to what the final score belies, this game was pretty much lopsided from the get-go, with the Express using a sublime combo of suffocating zone defense and red-hot outside shooting to tie the series, 94-91, and send it to a winner-take-all Game 5. Air 21 nailed 15 triples and 48% of their field goals overall to make up for their anemic performance in Game 3. The Express also showed extra hustle here, scoring 11 second-chance points against just 2 for the Mixers. 

(top) Wesley Witherspoon waxed hot in Game 4 with 8 treys!
(bottom) James Yap broke out in Game 4, but it was in vain as SMC still lost.

SMC’s shots started falling too late in this one, as they made a big run right when the outcome was practically decided already. They did make 44% of their treys, but this was offset by their shooting under 40% from the 2-point area. Not even the very first breakout game of James Yap in the conference (22 points on 8/13 FG shooting) could make up for the Mixers sputtering on offense. Oh, and they also squandered PJ Simon’s big 26-point explosion! talk about sayang. Now SMC will have to fight for its life (and its grand slam hopes) in Game 5.

Wild, wild, Wes: Coach Franz Pumaren was tough on Wesley Witherspoon this past week, and it looks it paid off. Witherspoon made good on 8 triples in this game, scoring a total of 32 points while also getting 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. He outplayed his SMC counterpart, James Mays, who barely played in the fourth period and scored only 14 points.

Game recap by Rey Joble/InterAKTV:


The Air 21 Express remained perfect in win-or-go-home matches in the PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup, defeating the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, 94-91, on Monday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The upstart Express tied the best-of-five semifinals series at 2-all to force a do-or-die Game Five on Wednesday.

Import Wesley Witherspoon led the Air 21 onslaught with 32 points built on eight three-pointers, pushing the Express total to 15 from beyond the arc. That helped open up a Mixers’ defense that allowed just 75 and 73 points in Game Two and Three.

“We came back to the system we were doing. There’s a certain approach in a game we’re supposed to do. In the last two games, it completely vanished,” said Air 21 coach Franz Pumaren.

The Express also confounded the Mixers with a game-long zone defense, helping control the San Mig Coffee big men who dominated the previous two games.

Behind Witherspoon’s hot shooting, the Express took control of the game in the first half. San Mig Coffee tried to mount rallies several times in the second half, but Air 21 seemingly had a big shot to douse each Mixers uprising.

“What I stressed on our import, I’ve been hard on him these past days. Today, he showed his talent, he showed his true character,” said Pumaren.

While Witherspoon led the Express, his San Mig Coffee counterpart James Mays had a quiet evening. After beating the whole Air 21 squad in rebounding in Game Three, Mays found himself glued to the San Mig Coffee bench for most of the fourth quarter.

With Air 21 taking a commanding 94-77 lead with about two minutes remaining, the Mixers scored the final 14 points of the game before running out of time.

“This is a temporary celebration on our part. Tomorrow, we prepare again,” said Pumaren, whose team also won back-to-back do-or-die games against San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals.

The Express will be trying to close out the series against a San Mig Coffee squad that has won each of the last two PBA titles.

“This is a new thing for some of my players. For San Mig, they’ve been here in this situation.”

AIR 94 – Witherspoon 32, Yeo 13, Taulava 12, Cardona 11, Borboran 8, Ramos 7, Atkins 6, Villanueva 3, Burtscher 2.
SMC 91 – Simon 26, Yap 22, Mays 14, Sangalang 9, Pingris 6, Barroca 6, Devance 4, Melton 4, Mallari 0, Reavis 0.
QS: 26-14, 48-39, 71-61, 94-91

James Yap connected on 4 triples to break out of a conference-long slump.

Joseph Yeo and the Express are looking to continue their
fairy tale ride in Game 5.

PJ Simon was awesome in Game 4, scoring 26 markers, but even that wasn't
enough for SMC to beat Air 21.

Wesley Witherspoon stepped into the superstar role in Game 4, and
he will be expected to do more of the same in Game 5. 

All images by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports 5.

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1 Comment

TALUNAN talaga ang san pig fixers iyak na naman si james bakla