Mixers stop RoS; Barako Bull stays alive
MANILA, Philippines - San Mig Coffee tightened the screw in the closing seconds, rejecting a make-or-break shot that preserved a scary 93-92 win over Rain or Shine and enhanced its bid for a Top Two finish in the PBA Philippine Cup elimination round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Rafi Reavis put up a good defensive stance on Beau Belga’s make-or-break attack in the last 3.3 seconds, and the Mixers eventually got back at the Elasto Painters, firming up their hold of second place with a 9-3 win-loss card.
A split in their last two games versus Globalport and Meralco allows the Mixers to clinch second spot and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against the seventh seed.
Moving down to 8-5, Rain or Shine forces a playoff for No. 2 if it wins its last game versus Barako Bull, and San Mig Coffee loses to both Globalport and Meralco.
"We just have to worry about Globalport. They'll gonna play relaxed. We’ve got to go out and prepare for that game. We've got to clinch our spot on Friday," said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone.
Earlier, Barako Bull got the numbers from nine players and stayed in the fight for the last berth in the playoff phase with a crucial 83-79 win over Barangay Ginebra.
Doug Kramer provided tremendous inside presence throughout, Ronald Tubid came through with key plays in the crunch and the other healthy Barako Bull players provided the supporting role on both ends of the court as the Energy Cola snapped a four-game losing skein and caught up with the Air21 Express at eighth place on identical 4-9 win-loss slates.
The Energy Cola bucked the odds minus injured players Enrico Villanueva, Josh Urbiztondo and Lester Alvarez as they notched their first win under returning head coach Bong Ramos.
"The team played a hell of a defense. That's what we prepared for after my takeover. It finally worked," said Ramos, back as the team’s bench chieftain taking over from Junel Baculi.
"Last game against Meralco, we're able to contain their scorers (Sol Mercado, Macmac Cardona and Ronjay Buenafe), but their role players came through for them," Ramos also said. "Yesterday (Saturday), I reminded the players even if only two of them play half-hearted, it would rock the boat. They responded and we got this important win."
Kramer hauled down a league season-high 22 rebounds and Tubid stepped up in the crunch, knocking down 11 points in the last five minutes as Barako Bull stopped Ginebra’s hot charge, dealing the Kings a first loss in their last six games.
At 7-6 overall, Ginebra, however, remained in strong contention for a spot in the two best-of-three showdowns in the quarterfinals.
Barako Bull, meanwhile, sprang back into the fight for the last quarters seat.
"We still have a chance. I think Air21 will win over Globalport (on Wednesday) and we have to beat Rain or Shine to force a knockout game with the Express. Whoever wins in the playoff deserves to go to the next round," said Ramos, himself ending a long skid in the league, nailing down a first win in his last 15 games as a head coach.