2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Semifinals: Mixers leave no doubt in eliminating Express!

After being unexpectedly pushed to a Game 5, the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers left no doubt, beating the upstart Air 21 Express, 99-83, to join the TNT Tropang Texters in the Commish Cup Finals. James Mays was solid in this one, dropping 24 points, grabbing 17 rebounds, handing out 3 assists, getting 2 steals, and blocking 2 shots. He outplayed his counterpart on the other end of the floor, Wesley Witherspoon, who scored 21 markers and hauled down 6 boards. Mays will have his hands full in the next round, however, as he’ll play against Richard Howell, who is the frontrunner for the conference’s Best Import award.

(Left) Asi Taulava continues to play at a high level despite his age.
(Right) James Mays led the Mixers past the Express and into the Finals.

The percentages caught up with Air 21 here. A couple of days after lighting up the Mixers from practically everywhere in Game 4, the Express shot just 30% from beyond the arc and under 40% overall from the field. They also made just 61% of their FTs, which, needless to say, just won’t cut it. They also got virtually nothing fro the PG spot, with Jonas Villanueva, Simon Atkins, and Eliud Poligrates combining for a total of 3 points in 36 minutes.

Slump no more: After being ice cold for practically the entire Commish Cup, two-time MVP James Yap seems to have finally found his groove. Prior to Game 4 in this series, Yap was shooting just 26% from the field and 27% from beyond the arc, but, in the past two matches, the former Red Warrior has shot 13/23 from the floor (57%) and 7/12 (58%) from long distance. The end of Big Game James’s slump augurs well for the Mixers in the Finals, of course, as they look to bag an unconventional grand slam. 

Game Recap by Rey Joble/InterAKTV:


The San Mig Super Coffee Mixers are back where they belong: the PBA Finals.

Forced into a knockout Game Five in the PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup by the upstart Air 21 Express, the Mixers flexed their might with an impressive 99-83 victory on Wednesday night at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Our guys came to play. You could see it all the way through the lineup,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone. “Total team effort. We were hitting our shots, we were defending. Everything clicked for us tonight.”

San Mig Coffee, which has won each of the last two PBA tournaments, will face the top seed Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in a rematch of the dramatic 2012 Commissioner’s Cup finals. The Tropang Texters, who have won all 13 of their games in the tournament so far, have been waiting in the wings since sweeping Rain or Shine in their semis bracket last week.

“We’ll see what we can do, that’s our battle cry against TNT,” said Cone.

James Yap, who struggled in the first three games of the series before breaking out in Game Four, set the tone early for the Mixers. The two-time Most Valuable Player nailed his first two three-pointers in the first quarter to loosen up the Air 21 zone that suffocated the San Mig Coffee offense in the previous game.

That allowed the Mixers to take control in the first period, 21-13. The dam broke in the second quarter after back-to-back scores by Mark Barroca gave San Mig Coffee a double-digit advantage, 27-15.

The Mixers pushed the lead to as many as 25 points to finish the Cinderella run of the Express, who made their first semifinals appearance since joining the PBA as the Shopinas.com Clickers franchise in 2011.

It remains the best finish in a tournament for Air 21, which upset heavy favorite San Miguel Beer in two straight games in the quarterfinals.

“This team played so well throughout the conference, nobody thought they’d be here, they put together really, really good gameplans,” said Cone in tribute to the Express.

San Mig Coffee will make its fifth finals appearance in eight conferences under Cone.

The Mixers return to the title round despite having limited rest between conferences as a result of the compressed PBA schedule to give way to Gilas Pilipinas national team preparations in July.

“Schedule’s really, really challenging. This team hasn’t had a break. I really have to give tremendous amount of credit to our guys, I can’t remember any schedule like this in the past,” said Cone. “I know we’re doing it for Gilas, I know the commissioner’s office doesn’t want to do it.”

SMC 99 – Mays 24, Simon 18, Yap 15, Barroca 11, Mallari 10, Devance 7, Pingris 7, Reavis 5, Melton 2, Gaco 0, Sangalang 0, Cawaling 0, Holstein 0.
AIR 83 – Witherspoon 21, Taulava 20, Cardona 13, Yeo 10, Borboran 7, Camson 6, Ramos 3, Villanueva 2, Atkins 1, Poligrates 0, Burtscher 0.
QS: 21-13, 50-33, 81-58, 99-83

The fairy tale of the Express ended last night after getting beaten by SMC.

Asi Taulava is, quite literally, a living legend.

James Mays gets hammered on his way to the hole as
SMC wins in Game 5.

James Yap and Marc Pingris have a clear shot at an unconventional grand slam.

Images by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports 5.

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