San Mig takes pivotal 2-1 advantage over Meralco
6:45 p.m. San Mig vs. Rain or Shine
San Mig Coffee inched closer to a return trip to the finals as the Mixers defeated an undermanned Meralco Bolts squad, 94-87, in Game Three of the best-of-five PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals yesterday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers broke free from the hard-fighting Bolts, who missed the services of import Mario West in the fourth period due to an injury, via a 9-2 run in the latter stages of the game and withstood a last-ditch rally by Meralco to pull off the pivotal win and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
San Mig Coffee needs just one more game to advance to the Finals again. The Mixers, known then as the B-Meg Llamados, were runners-up to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in last year’s Governors’ Cup Finals.
Alex Mallari played a key role in the Mixers’ win as he logged a career-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. He also shot a cold-blooded three in that important late run of the Mixers then made his free throws down the stretch to help fend off the Bolts and preserve the win.
West injured his shoulder at the 4:27 mark of the third period after getting bumped by San Mig’s Joe DeVance. He never returned to the game.
Reynel Hugnatan, Jared Dillinger, Mike Cortez and John Wilson tried to keep the Bolts in the game even without West as they conspired to give Meralco a 69-66 lead early in the fourth after trailing, 54-63.
Mallari sliced the lead with a nifty layup then both teams traded baskets before San Mig pulled away in the final four minutes of the game.
After that telling 9-2 run, San Mig saw itself comfortably up, 88-79 with under two minutes left in the game.
Meralco never gave up as Hugnatan split a freethrow, Dillinger sank a three after Mallari’s two freebies and Wilson drained a rare four-point play to pull the Bolts to within 87-90 with 26 second left.
But the Mixers held on by making their free throws in the endgame.
Marcus Blakely added 21 points while Mark Barroca chipped in 18 for San Mig.
Mike Cortez led the losing squad with 15.
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