MANILA, Philippines – After a hellish 3-game losing slide in the heels of a 4-game winning run to open the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the Purefoods Star Hotshots came back with a character 113-105 win in overtime against the San Miguel Beermen on Sunday, March 1 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
James Yap, who missed two games due to a swollen knee injury, hit 15 points, 8 of which came in the pivotal overtime. The star forward, who hit 3-of-6 three-pointers all game, was accountable for 3 crucial plays that clinched the game for the Hotshots.
Yap tied the count at 105-all with 3:05 left in extra time before burying a triple from the top of the key to push Purefoods up by 109-105 with 1:40 left to play.
He then found a wide open Marc Pingris underneath the basket for the easy lay-up with 39.4 remaining, 111-105, as Purefoods escaped.
“I forced James to play the whole overtime. They went with the zone and I don’t think there’s a better zone-buster in the league than James Yap,” said head coach Tim Cone, who admitted he was trying to preserve his ailing go-to guys such as PJ Simon. “He hits big shots against the zone.”
Import Denzel Bowles was reliable once more with 35 points, 17 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks. Bowles, who played just his second game for Purefoods, dropped 16 markers in the third which allowed his team to build a 17-point 83-66 advantage early in the payoff period.
But Purefoods blew their huge lead and allowed San Miguel to climb back as Marcio Lassiter went on a solo 8-0 run highlighted by a pair of treys to knot the count at 95-all with 1:58 remaining in regulation.
AZ Reid, who gave the Beermen a 105-103 edge midway in overtime before Yap tied the contest, kept San Miguel in the game with a basket, 98-all, with 50.9 left in the fourth.
Purefoods had the last possession but Yap missed the potential game-winner.
“You think you can walk away with a nice win, you give it up and then you have to struggle in overtime,” Cone lamented how his team let go of what could have been an easy triumph.
“In the blink of an eye they were back in the game and forced overtime. Luckily before the overtime started, our guys focused. And James had his big moments, which is what he has done his entire career.”
“It was really a good win for us but it was truly unsatisfactory,” he added.
Alex Mallari contributed 17 points while Pingris came up with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists as Purefoods rose to 5-3.
Reid led all San Miguel scorers with his 23 points along with 11 rebounds and 4 steals. Lassiter ended up with 21 markers, including 5-of-10 shooting from long range, and 6 rebounds, while Chris Lutz added 11 points.
June Mar Fajardo was unable to help his team in the remaining 2:22 of overtime as he fouled out of the game. He wound up with 14 points and 17 rebounds.
San Miguel Beer continues to struggle after winning the Philippine Cup title in January as they sit at the bottom of the standings with a 1-6 card. – Rappler.com