MANILA, Philippines – San Mig Super Coffee was dealt a huge blow when guard Peter June Simon was declared unavailable for their PBA Governors Cup quarter-finals game against San Miguel Beer due to back spasms – and with just a few hours to go before tip-off.
But even without Simon, the grand slam-seeking Coffee Mixers still pulled out a 97-90 victory, thanks in part to the spectacular play of young gun Justin Melton.
Melton provided a huge spark for the Mixers, who had gotten off to a slow start and fallen behind in the first half. He finished with a career-high 16 points – second only to the 25-point output of import Marqus Blakely.
His performance earned him praise from head coach Tim Cone, who, in a PBA.ph report, said: "Justin stepped up big time. I can't take him off the floor."
Melton, for his part, downplayed his performance, instead crediting the entire team.
"Just knowing that PJ wasn't here, we all collectively stepped up," he said. "Alex (Mallari) coming in, playing defense, Allein (Maliksi) coming in and hitting big shots, it's all collective."
"One of us not being able to play, everybody has to step up," he added.
Melton also noted that he just took his cue from Cone, who reiterated that the Mixers should be more focused than ever as they make yet another playoff run.
"Coach really emphasized focus come playoff time," he said. "He really emphasizes that in practice. 'Focus, focus, focus.' It's where it counts, in practice. I guess in practice, we could focus and carry it to the game."
Thanks in part to Melton's performance, San Mig dispatched San Miguel Beer and booked a ticket to the semi-finals, where they will face off against the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters.