MANILA, Philippines – The San Mig Coffee Mixers entered Game 1 of their PBA PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup Finals series against Talk ‘N Text with a lot of confidence, despite knowing that their opponents were 13-0 entering tonight’s contest.
However, by the end of the game, it seems like the sixth seed in this duel is the team to beat in this series.
PJ Simon had 16 points, James Yap had 17, Mark Barroca had 12, and the Mixers forced the Tropang Texters to 12 turnovers in the second half to halt Talk ‘N Text’s winning streak at 13 and take Game 1 of their best-of-five championship series with a 95-80 victory on Friday night, May 9, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“They deserve this victory. They came out and played with defensive intensity. They forced us into a lot of turnovers, which was a little uncharacteristic for us, but it happened tonight,” stated Talk ‘N Text head coach Norman Black following his team’s walloping loss.
James Mays had 10 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals for SMC, while Richard Howell was limited to just 11 markers and 13 boards for the Tropang Texters, which were spearheaded by Jayson Castro (17 points), Ryan Reyes (13 points), and Kelly Williams (12 points).
“The two fouls on Howell took away his aggressiveness in the start,” mentioned Black, talking about why he felt his import wasn’t as effective as he usually is. “But he really committed the first foul. I always tell him he has to stay out of foul trouble.”
The Mixers totaled 45 rebounds, 21 assists, and 11 steals for the night, while doing a fantastic job of disrupting their opponents’ offensive sets, which had previously worked to perfection in the past few weeks.
“I think a couple of things happened tonight: one, we carried over momentum from the last game… and then, they obviously weren’t sharp tonight. They made uncharacteristic turnovers,” said Mixers head coach Tim Cone after the game.
He added to his statement, talking about how he felt like tonight’s version of the Tropang Texters won’t be the same one that shows up for Game 2.
“We know we didn’t see the real Talk ‘N Text tonight. We know we’re going to see them on Sunday.
“I don’t want to lessen our effort, our energy, and our energy, but truly, they weren’t the same tonight. It was less us beating them than them beating themselves tonight.”
A quick 6-1 run by San Mig Coffee gave them the early momentum in the third period, and a nine-point lead, 50-41. Moments later, a tandem of visits to the free throw line from Simon and Barroca and an Ian Sangalang floater extended their team’s lead to 15, 62-47.
SMC continued to pressure Talk ‘N Text’s pick-and-roll offense and managed to thieve a number of steals near halfcourt, leading to easy bunnies at the rim. By the end of the third canto, the Mixers had taken all the momentum of the game, 70-57, and were 12 minutes away from putting a stop to the Tropang Texers’ winning streak.
Both clubs got off to a quick and even start, as three different SMC players converted field goals while two triples from Ryan Reyes trickled in to tie the game at six-all.
Over the next few minutes, defense remained the theme of the first period, with both teams failing to put many points on the scoreboard.
The Tim Cone-coached squad did a good job of denying the Tropang Texters’ pick-and-roll plays from the get-go, forcing them to jack-up shots from three-point range instead while shattering TNT’s off-ball movement and route-running.
However, they also weren’t able to take advantage due to the Norman Black-coached squad’s ability to get to the free-throw line, as their opponents went 5-of-6 from the charity stripe in the first quarter.
After 12 minutes of action, both clubs were deadlocked at 17.
In the second quarter, the Mixers were able to build a three-point advantage thanks to a Melton step-back jumper in the early goings. Afterwards, a flagrant foul was assessed to Ranidel De Ocampo, which forced the Best Player of the Conference candidate to take a seat.
Tempers continued to flare as SMC head coach Tim Cone was given a technical foul for complaining to the referees for a blocking foul called on Barroca which he felt was wrongly-assessed.
Later on, with the contest knotted up at 38, Jimmy Alapag was called for a flagrant foul for a play he made on Barroca, much to the dismay of TNT fans at the Big Dome. As the game turned more physical and rugged, the Mixers were forced into committing more turnovers (11), but the Tropang Texters continued to struggle from the field (43.3%).
At halftime, SMC had a four-point lead, 44-40, thanks to a late put-back by Mays.
“Again, sometimes you get that second wind because, when you’re doing something, and it’s going well for you, even if you’re tired you get that second wind,” added Cone after the contest. “Now we have to find that third, and fourth, and fifth wind.”
With a little over six minutes to go in the game, a pair of jumpers from Joe Devance muffled the Tropang Texers’ defense to give his club a 17-point margin, 68-51. TNT answered back with four quick points, but another defensive stop by Barocca led to a rim-shattering dunk from Mays, which turned out to be the dagger of the contest.
“The team I’m coaching right now, they’re into winning,” uttered Tim Cone, before talking about how dedicated his club is to the task at hand.
“We got one game in the series, and we’re trying to win a championship.”
Black, on the other hand, is expecting more from his guys: “We need more fight, more intensity, and more energy for next game.”
Game 2 is on Sunday, 5:00PM, at the Big Dome.
San Mig Coffee (95): Yap 17, Simon 16, Barroca 12, Sangalang 12, Mays 10, Pingris 10, Devance 7, Mallari 5, Reavis 4, Melton 2, De Ocampo 0, Gaco 0
Talk ‘N Text (80): Castro 17, Reyes 13, Williams 12, Howell 11, Canaleta 9, De Ocampo 5, Fonacier 5, Alapag 3, Seigle 2, Reyes 1, Reyes 1, Carey 1, Aban 0, Baclao 0
Quarter Scores: 17-17, 44-40, 70-57, 95-80