MANILA, Philippines - Import Marqus Blakely came through for the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers and carried them to a 113-109 escape in overtime from the hard-fighting Air21 Express in the 2014 PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors' Cup on Monday, June 9 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Dubbed as "Mr. Everything" by San Mig head coach Tim Cone himself, Blakely did not disappoint as he delivered a monster all-around performance of 36 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, and 7 blocks to give the Mixers a solo grasp of second place with a 5-2 win-loss record.
The most notable aspect of Blakely's performance was the aggression he displayed all game long, which was most evident through his many visits to the free-throw line.
Blakely had 31 attempts from the stripe and sank 22 of those. He outscored the Express in free throws all by himself as Air21 went 14-of-24.
In total, the Mixers came up with 40-of-57 free throws.
Those charities proved to be the game-changer in the end as Blakely and PJ Simon (17 points) went 3-of-4 from the line to notch a 112-109 cushion with 16.1 ticks left in overtime.
A turnover from Air21 in those final seconds brought Blakely back to the stripe for the last time with 5.9 seconds on the clock. He split to ink the final tally as the Mixers' defense broke the Express' last-ditch play right from the inbound - with Joseph Yeo unable to convert - as San Mig walked away with the win.
Despite Blakely's impressive performance, Cone was wary about relying on him too much.
"I felt we went too much to him tonight. I felt we put the load too much on him," stressed the 17-time champion coach. "He's wonderful but we can't use him as our crutch. We have to carry our own load, each one of us."
Looking at the Express, the loss proved to be heartbreaking considering Yeo's clutch performance.
Yeo, who ended up with 20 points, gave Air21 the opportunity to potentially take the win, sending the contest to an extra 5 minutes with a game-tying three-pointer against Simon's defense with 1.9 seconds left in regulation.
Yeo's triple was part of a huge Air21 fourth quarter rally that found the Mixers surrendering their 13-point 82-69 lead early in that last period.
A triple by Eliud Poligrates (17 points) tied the count at 90 with 4:49 to play as the Express came up with huge 36-point fourth quarter burst.
In spite of Dominique Sutton's 22 points and 13 rebounds, to go with Asi Taulava's 21 points and 12 boards, the Express still slid down to a 4-3 record.
"In the big scheme of things this was a huge win for us," Cone said. "Air21 has just played a wonderful last two conferences. We were lucky to escape with this win tonight."
Marc Pingris contributed 14 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists, as Allein Maliksi came alive with 11 points.
Cone also addressed the budding rivalry between San Mig and Air21, which began last conference when the Mixers booted out the Express in a 5-game semifinals series that went the distance.
"I think they're a thorn to everybody's side right now. Not just ours. They're playing really great basketball."
Cone said he looks to get at least one more win to ensure a slot in the top 4 and secure a twice-to-beat edge.
"Our job is still very, very hard."
The Mixers' last two games will be against the solo first Talk 'N Text and the hot-streaking Rain or Shine.
San Mig Coffee 113- Blakely 36, Simon 17, Pingris 14, Maliksi 11, Melton 9, Yap 9, Barroca 6, Devance 4, Reavis 4, Mallari 3, Sangalang 0.
Air 21 109 - Sutton 22, Taulava 21, Yeo 20, Poligrates 17, Ramos 8, Villanueva 6, Camson 6, Borboran 5, Menor 2, Cardona 2, Villanueva 0, Burtscher 0, Atkins 0.
Quarter scores: 21-27; 48-43; 80-69; 105-105; 113-109.