MANILA, Philippines – San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone released a sigh of relief after they were able to outlast giant slayer Air21 in overtime, 113-109, last Monday.
But they over-relied on Marques Blakely, who had to do most of the dirty work to bail out the Coffee Mixers.
Blakely scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter and came up with the extra eight points during overtime to go with his 17 rebounds, seven assists, seven blocks and three steals.
“He was wonderful, but we can’t use him as our crutch,” said Cone in PBA’s official website. “I felt we went to him too much. We put too big of a load in him. We were posting him up every time. He had three or four spectacular blocks when he had five fouls.”
Cones said his regulars will have to step up a notch to ease the load from Blakely’s shoulders.
“We got to carry our own load at this point. Guys like PJ [Simon], James [Yap], [Marc] Pingris, Joe [Devance], and Mark [Barroca], they have to carry their own load. They can’t just rely on Marqus all the time,” said the coach.
Air21’s Joseph Yeo forced the game into overtime with a dagger three that knotted the scores 105-all.
But San Mig Coffee leaned on their free throw shooting, while silencing Air21 in the last 3:37 of the extra time to secure their fifth win in seven games. The Coffee Mixers are now within half a game of idle leader Talk ‘N Text.
“We were lucky to escape with this win,” said Cone. “We feel we’re not where we need to be. We’re not playing the same defense we’ve been playing, and we’re kind of out of wack a little bit, but to be able to come out and win a game like this, when you’re not at your best, it’s important down the stretch this conference.”