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MENAFN - Arab News - 08/02/2014
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(MENAFN -Arab News) From the depths of the standings earlier in the tournament to barely making the playoffs, San Mig Coffee is now on the verge of making the championship series and completing an upset of the top-seeded squad.James Yap again delivered when the game was on the line Saturday afternoon, gunning down a triple with 13.4 seconds left that keyed a 79-76 decision of Barangay Ginebra for a 3-2 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four series at the Araneta Coliseum.After blowing a nine-point lead early in the fourth period and even trailing by a point with 22 seconds to go, the Mixers were saved by Yap’s high-arching trey as San Mig – from a .500 team at the end of the eliminations – moved within another victory of making the title series opposite Rain or Shine.The Elasto Painters booked the first slot in the best-of-seven series with a 4-1 win over Petron Blaze Saturday night, and a victory by San Mig either in Game 6 tomorrow or Game 7 on Wednesday would complete the annihilation of the two tallest teams in the tournament following the exit of the Boosters.Marc Barroca set up Yap for the biggest shot of the night and then forced superstar Ginebra point guard LA Tenorio to throw up two wayward layups in the final seven seconds that helped seal the win before a virtual sea of humanity at the Big Dome.Game 6 is also scheduled at the historic venue in Cubao, and San Mig coach Tim Cone knows that closing out someone – especially the most popular squad in the country – would be a tall order.“Nice pass by Marc and James got the shot,” said Cone. “It’s just a one-game lead. This game doesn’t mean much unless we finish them off.”Ginebra had early control before the Mixers took a 66-57 lead early in the fourth period and looked headed to posting a convincing win only for the Kings to call on their never-say-die game and make it a high-wire finish.Chris Ellis, who scored 20 points to pace all scorers for the night, hit a fallaway jumper with 22.9 seconds remaining to usher the Kings to that one-point lead, 76-75.But Yap – who has been on a scoring slump all conference-long because of tightness of the muscles in his right arm – found a little gap against Mac Baracael and launched the triple that saved the Mixers.After that, Tenorio, probably the best point guard in the league and one of the top players in his position in Asia, drove for a layup for the potential equalizer only to hit the side of the board because of Barroca’s pressure defense.Ginebra was forced to send rookie Justin Melton to the line for a split of his two free throws with seven seconds left, and, without a timeout remaining, Ginebra got the ball in Tenorio’s hands only for Tenorio to elect to go coast-to-coast and have his layup deflected by Barroca.“It came down to the last possession for both teams,” Cone, a Grand Slam winner with Alaska in 1996 who is seeking to take San Mig to the all-Filipino Finals for the first time in his tenure, said. “And Marc (Barroca) played wonderful defense on LA in that possession.”Cone also seems to have figured out how to limit Ginebra’s twin tower combination of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar as the duo was held below twin digits for the first time this conference.Slaughter, the first overall choice in the Draft, scored just nine points – the first time in the last 17 games that he failed to score at least 10 – while Aguilar also had nine.Though it could have also been the first time this season that none of them snared at least 10 boards, Ginebra still won the rebounding battle, 52-40, but couldn’t capitalize on it.Slaughter and Aguilar had just nine rebounds apiece.


 


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