MANILA, Philippines - San Mig Coffee squandered an 18-point lead but hung tough in the end to turn back Petron Blaze, 90-84, and grab a share of the early lead in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night. The Coffee Mixers gained from Rafi Reavis’ split foul throw and a big block by Yancy de Ocampo in the last 21.7 seconds to survive the furious rally of the Boosters and storm to their second straight win, joining Talk N Text at the top. “We shouldn’t have let it get back that close but that (Petron) is a really good team. Any win is a good win against them,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone, whose wards even enjoyed their biggest lead at 45-27 in the second quarter. San Mig Coffee was still ahead, 82-75, going to the last 3:09 but Petron rookie Jun Mar Fajardo imposed his will inside to help Petron get to within 84-87 with 23 seconds left. Reavis then cashed in on the front end of his charities to restore a four-point spread before De Ocampo blocked Jay Washington’s three-point heave, leading to a runaway by James Yap for the win. “I think everybody got a glimpse of what Jun Mar can do these days. He was doing it against Yancy, 6-10 and Rafi, 6-9; battling boards, doing a lot of stuff. Basically, his energy got them back,” said Cone, of the rookie behemoth, who had 16 markers, 13 boards and three steals to backstop Arwind Santos’ 18 points. Yap led the way for the Coffee Mixers with 18 points, six boards, and four assists, followed by PJ Simon’s 17and De Ocampo’s 14. “We panicked a little bit in early, fourth, middle fourth, kinda breaking down to too much one on one. (But we) covered it with defense and got some things from our defense and were able to score,” said Cone. The Boosters fell to 1-2, joining Alaska, Barako Bull and Air21. In the first game, Alaska drew 20-pointers from three players and got the rest to do the dirty work as the Aces nipped Barako Bull, 102-86, to finally barge into the win column. JV Casio fired 24 points spiked by four triples while Cyrus Baguio turned in 23 and Mac Baracael netted 21 as the Aces clawed back from a 10-point deficit in the third to snatch the victory. from the Energy Cola. The Aces, who played with a lot of sick players, are now 1-2 in a tie for seventh with their victims and Air21, handing coach Luigi Trillo his first win in the all-Pinoy tourney. “We’ve gotten punished in the first two games for not playing good defense. We gave 55 percent fieldgoal and today we had a bit more energy,” said Trillo.
In this game, the Aces held Barako Bull to a 32.1 percent clip (27-of-84) while shooting 48 percent of their own shots (36 of 75). “We gave them 17 points in the third and 21 in fourth, may not be big to others but for me it’s a stepping stone,” said Trillo. It was their defense that turned the tables around in the third. After Barako seized a 62-52 lead and maintained a 64-57 upperhand at the 6:55 mark of the third, the Aces held the Energy Cola scoreless in the next four minutes with Casio and Baracael on the offensive end, to wrest a 72-64 lead. Barako scored only one point the rest of the period as Alaska opened up an 81-65 lead entering the fourth. The Energy Cola made a big rally to go to within one at 85-84 but Baracael made some big buckets as the Aces restored a 96-85 lead to put the finishing touches to the win. The Aces pulled this one off despite the LBM suffered by Sonny Thoss, who was scoreless but grabbed six rebounds and had four shotblocks, and Eddie Laure, who was hospitalized days before the game. Casio himself got hurt, suffering a cut on the left side of his head after colliding with teammate Sam Eman’s teeth during a looseball scramble in the fourth. “These guys are playing through illness. That’s what makes these guys great. It’s great to see them scratch and claw,” said Trillo. Enrico Villanueva topscored for Barako with 22 points, his highest output in the last four seasons, plus 17 boards. Ronald Tubid added 16 markers and 11 rebounds.