Joseph Yeo of Air21 goes up against Marc Pingris of San Mig Coffee. Photo by Nuki Sabio
MANILA, Philippines – Air21 survived San Mig Coffee's searing fourth-quarter run and pulled off a 103-100 upset against the fancied Mixers in Game 1 of their best-of-5 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semis series on Tuesday.
The Express’ Sean Anthony exploded for 29 markers that helped offset James May’s 13-point effort in the payoff period. Wesley Witherspoon added 25 points and 5 rebounds for Air21.
San Mig Coffee was holding on to a 74-66 lead going into the final canto when Anthony started connecting on his shots that tied the score at 85-all. Aldrech Ramos and Joseph Yeo then buried a pair of baskets to push the Express ahead, 91-87.
Tensions arose when San Mig's coach Tim Cone got ejected after incurring two technical fouls for confronting the game officials. He contested a non-call on Asi Taulava’s travelling violation 1:17 minutes remaining in the game.
This seemed to have fired up Mays who unleashed 13 straight points that pulled San Mig Coffee within 3.
But Air21 escaped with the win after Mays missed a potential buzzer-beating triple that could have forced a game extension.
Mays tallied 27 points for the Mixers, who also got 11 points from Mark Barroca.
The win allowed Air21 to complete another upset after beating the Mixers’ sister team, the San Miguel Beermen, in the quarterfinals.
The Express will need two more victories against San Mig Coffee to advance to the Commissioner’s Cup finals.
Air21 103 – Anthony 29, Witherspoon 25, Taulava 14, Yeo 11, Ramos 9, Poligrates 7, Cardona 4, Borboran 2, Villanueva 2, Burtscher 0, Camson 0.
San Mig Coffee 100 – Mays 27, Barroca 11, Simon 11, Devance 10, Sangalang 10, Melton 8, Pingris 7, Mallari 7, Reavis 6, Yap 3, De Ocampo 0.
Quarterscores: 23-24, 48-51, 66-74, 103-100