San Mig eliminates Talk ‘N Text, snatches last semis berth

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Sunday, January 26, 2014


SAN Mig Coffee dethroned Talk ‘ N Text with a 90-82 beating yesterday to grab the last semifinal seat in the 39th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

The Coffee Mixers walked through an edge of a razor blade in their do-or-die battle that resulted to several lead changes and deadlocks before they finally prevailed after a blazing 13-5 run by Mark Barroca, Joe Devance, Marc Pingres in the last 3:32 of the game.

They will be taking on sister team Ginebra Kings in the best-of-seven semifinal series starting Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“As Talk ‘N Text got the penalty earler, it changed the game for them. They could not pressure us anymore. We got a secret weapon tonight in Justin Melton. He was really the key for us. He gave us new dimension. We worked hard for it, our guys worked hard for it. We have a bad start in the conference. Then we are now in the Top 4. It is really an accomplishment,” said the 15-time champion coach Tim Cone.

Rookie Justin Melton was also a big revelation as he fired back-to-back triples that enable the Coffee Mixers to post a 60-53 upperhand some 4:20 remaining in the third quarter. He added another trey to move San Mig to within two points, 67-65, still 10:33 remaining.

“I am stoked, pumped up playing Ginebra. We're trying for a back to back titles. Talk 'N Text was trying for a 4-peat. I'’ve been coaching against Norman Black for so long, I've got a lot of respect for him. It's like knocking out coach Chot Reyes. Mark Barroca played big down the stretch. Rafi Reavis came out, Ian Sangalang played well.

But it was a total team contribution, something we didn't have early in the conference. James Yap had a hyper extended elbow injury, certainly there’s pain there. James Yap is our best player, he hardly sits out in practice, He’s gonna find a way," added Cone, whose San Mig is seeking its 11th title since 1988.

The 5’11” guard Melton, a 13th overall pick by San Mig in the 2013 draft, finished with 12 points and five assists including three triples to help advanced coach Tim Cone's team to the semis for the second straight time. They also won the 2013 Governor's cup title.

Barroca topscored for the Coffee Mixers with 18 points, Devance settled with 14 and 13 from Pingres. Peter June Simon also contributed 10 and 8 each from Alex Mallari and Yap, while Ranidel de Ocampo scored a game-high 22 points, Jayson Castro had 15 and 13 from KG Canaleta.

Meanwhile, second seed Rain or Shine and third seed Patron Blaze start their best-of-seven semifinal series today.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2014.

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