2013 PBA Governors’ Cup
Nov 28,2013 0 Comments
Words by: Nadz Ruiz
It all came down to a battle between two of the most long-standing franchises in Philippine professional basketball. San Miguel Beer and Purefoods fans of old (and new) flocked to the 2013 PBA Governors’ Cup finals to watch the match-up between the strong, star-studded line-up of the Petron Blaze Boosters and the solid, sharp shooters of the San Mig Coffee Mixers.
But before we talk about this classic final, let’s take a short look back at the events that led up to the clash of these two titans.
The Governors’ Cup started on Aug. 14, two weeks later than originally scheduled due to the FIBA Asia Championship which was held in Manila. The last PBA tournament of the year was expected to be an exciting one as Gilas players returned and expected to banner their respective teams. The added firepower from the imports were also expected to turn up the tempo in this short but sweet tourney.
Young teams Rain or Shine and Globalport were quick out the gate with wins against veterans San Mig Coffee and Air 21. The succeeding games were straightforward – with teams notching their first wins and others bouncing back from first game losses.
The only seemingly anomalous event was the 2-0 start of the San Mig Coffee Mixers. The next set of games saw the locals pushing their teams to wins. Globalport’s Gary David shot a dagger three to lift his team over debuting Alaska while the tandem of Gilas, big man Marc Pingris and James “Big Game” Yap, made all the difference as San Mig Coffee bounced back from two straight losses to start the season.
L.A. Tenorio showed why he was one of the top pointguards in the country by scoring 34 big points to give Barangay Ginebra San Miguel their first win of the Governors’ Cup. Meanwhile, the imports of Air 21 and Petron were also quick to make the mark, top-scoring their teams’ wins against Air 21 and Rain or Shine respectively.
Locals and imports made good music together as the tournament continued. Petron leaned on locals June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, and Arwind Santos to support import Elijah Millsap’s efforts as the Boosters blazed to three consecutive wins. Guard Emman Monfort’s breakaway game went hand-in-hand with import Michale Singletary to give Barako Bull a 3-1 card, tying Petron at the top of the standings. Meanwhile, Alaska bounced back with two consecutive wins after their first game loss to Globalport.
It was a pretty tight race at the 2-2 level with Rain or Shine, Talk N Text, and Globalport all jockeying for better records. On the other hand, Ginebra and Air 21 fell to the bottom of the standings. High-scoring Petron broke the top rank tie with Barako Bull as the Boosters flexed offensive muscle with Elijah Millsap’s 31 points and Arwind Santos and Chris Lutz’s combined 39 markers. Rain or Shine moved up to another three-way tie at the 3-2 level after ending a two-game skid at the expense of the hapless Air 21 Express. Meralco and Barako Bull both shared ROS’s 3-2 card with the Bolts evening Alaska’s record at 2-2 and Barako Bull falling to Petron.
The Marc Pingris-Kelly Nabong brawl
As old die hard fans would have it, Philippine basketball is not complete without the face-offs and the occasional fistfight. With emotions and competitive spirits running high, a true fistfight occured between San Mig Coffee Mixer Marc Pingris and Globalport’s Kelly Nabong.
The trouble started when San Mig Coffee import Marqus Blakely dragged down Globalport’s Marvin Hayes by the neck. Mixer Joe Devance shoved Hayes who was retaliating at Blakely. Kelly Nabong backed up Hayes, but his right forearm hit Blakely instead of Devance. Marc Pingris then joined the fray by throwing a punch to Nabong’s face. Nabong attempted to knee Pingris but failed to connect.
The fight prompted officials to eject Pingris and Nabong, to call double fouls on Hayes and Blakely, and to slap technical fouls on Hayes and Devance for second motion. Pingris admitted to losing his temper and expected full sanctions from the league.
Nevertheless, San Mig Coffee ended up with the win.
After the scuffle, the PBA dealt Pingris and Nabong each a 2-game suspension and a fine of P60,000. San Mig Coffee Mixer Joe Devance was suspended for one game and fined P30,000. Globalport’s Marvin Hayes was also fined P20,000 for his flagrant foul on SMC import Marqus Blakely.
PBA Commissioner Chito Salud warned the players on their behavior, saying “I want to remind our players that long after sanctions have been served, your overall conduct’s impression on our youth will continue to last. Be more circumspect in the future.”
Life goes on in the PBA as the next games saw Rain or Shine tripping against Meralco and Talk N Text falling to 2-3 with a loss against Alaska. Barako Bull and Rain or Shine both came out with a loss and a win, tying each other with 4-3 cards. Globalport came back from a huge 20-point deficit to beat Meralco and to stay in contention for a quarterfinals slot.
San Mig Coffee sans Marc Pingris and Joe Devance squeaked past Ginebra to drop the Barangay further down the standings. Petron continued to dominate the tournament with a high-scoring yet lopsided win against Talk ‘N Text. The 6-time champions Tropang Texters fell to an unusual second-to-the-last place in the standings.
What is a PBA tournament without mid-conference trades?
Obviously in need of better offense, Air 21 initiated swaps to boost their team for the remainder of the season and to get an early start for the new season in November.
Air 21 traded point guard Mike Cortez for veteran center Asi Taulava who is coming from a stint in the ASEAN Basketball League. The trade also has forward Mark Borboran coming into the Express, while big man JR Sena joins the Meralco frontline. As Air 21 continued their revamp, they landed shooting guard and potential big scorer Joseph Yeo from Petron, reuniting the former La Salle standout with former mentor Franz Pumaren. On the other hand, it was another collegiate reunion as former FEU front liner Mark Isip was reunited with Tamaraw, and now Petron teammates, Arwind Santos and Denok Miranda (Miranda was traded away at the end of the 2012-2013 season).
Back to regular programming, Air 21 Express survived an offensive shootout with Talk ‘N Text as veteran Asi Taulava returns to the PBA hardcourt. With the Air 21 win, both teams were tied at the bottom of the standings. San Mig Coffee and Meralco both won their respective fixtures to tie each other at second in the standings and clinch quarterfinal berths. San Mig Coffee later on gained solo second after beating Meralco. The win assured San Mig Coffee that they wouldn’t have to face table-leaders Petron until the eventual final.
Barangay Ginebra escaped with a 1-point lead controversial win over the Elasto Painters. Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao wanted to put the game under protest over the make-or-break foul called by the referee in the dying seconds of the game. Guiao maintained it was a no-foul and that, in his words, they were “robbed of a win”. ROS’s formal protest did not reach the league deadline though, legitimately handing the win to Ginebra.
Meanwhile, Alaska continued to jockey for better placement in the coming quarterfinals with a win over Barako Bull. On the other hand, Petron was already running the table, ending the eliminations with an 8-1 record.
While Petron already had the top quarterfinals seed, the rest of the table was still wide open. Talk ‘N Text continued to struggle as they dropped their fourth straight game against a determined Rain or Shine team. Meanwhile, Air 21 still managed to shake up the standings by beating Alaska and foiling the Aces’ bid for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
The last quarterfinal berth came down to the wire. Talk ‘N Text finally snapped their four-game skid by beating Ginebra and forcing a playoff for the eighth seed.
Finally, the last slot was won by Ginebra with Gilas standout LA Tenorio’s “never say die” efforts.
The quarterfinals slate for the 2013 Governors’ Cup was finally complete: Petron, San Mig Coffee, Meralco, Rain or Shine, Globalport, Barako Bull, Alaska, and Ginebra.
Meralco gained the first semifinal berth right off the bat with a dominating victory against Barako Bull. It was the first time Meralco finished in the top four of a conference. On the other hand, San Mig Coffee was forced to use their twice-to-beat advantage against Alaska. The Aces fought back from 12 points down in the fourth quarter as import Wendell McKines and former Gilas point guard Jvee Casio combined for 17 points to force a do-or-die game. San Mig Coffee eventually claimed a semifinal slot.
Defending champions Rain or Shine played from behind most of the game but survived a testy and determined Globalport to advance to the semis. Meanwhile, Petron’s elimination round momentum was still very much in effect as they breezed through the quarters at the expense of crowd favorite Ginebra.
With the semifinal cast complete, Petron started their campaign against Rain or Shine with a late surge by Elijah Millsap and guard Alex Cabagnot’s dagger three.
In the other semifinal match-up, it was a defensive battle between San Mig Coffee and Meralco. Joe Devance and James Yap combined shooting efforts in the absence of sharp shooter Allein Maliksi, who was out for up to 6 months because of an ACL injury. Meralco bounced back at the start of October by evening their semifinal series against San Mig Coffee. The Bolts started strong and never gave the Mixers a chance for a lead.
Meanwhile, the Kraken went on beast mode to give Petron a chance for a semifinal sweep against Rain or Shine. June Mar Fajardo finished the game with a double-double performance, scoring 26 points and taking down 14 rebounds.
Game 3 for all the semifinal teams were all exciting clashes as San Mig Coffee edged ahead of Meralco, while Rain or Shine held on to prevent a Petron sweep. The Mixers came up big in the last three minutes against a spirited Meralco team who were playing without injured import Mario West. On the other hand, Jeff Chan and Rain or Shine erased a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter to bounce back in their semifinal series against Petron.
Game 4 sealed the finals match-up between Petron and San Mig Coffee. The Blaze Boosters made sure they had the finals slot in the bag with a dominant performance over defending champions Rain or Shine. On the other hand, the Mixers weathered through a fierce late rally by Meralco but ultimately won the game.
With the semis over and done, the fans found themselves looking at a classic Governors’ Cup final.
Petron continued to show their dominance as they exploded for 41 points in the final quarter to take Game 1. Import Elijah Millsap posted a triple double with 35 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Best Player of the Conference candidate, Arwind Santos, chipped in with 16 points but became his team’s cheerleader as his teammates put the Mixers away in the fourth quarter.
Arwind Santos is Best Player of the Conference
Petron’s dominant showing in the 2013 Governors’ Cup was further evidenced by the race for the Best Player of the Conference award. Forward Arwind Santos took home his second Best Player of the Conference trophy, with teammates June Mar Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot coming in second and third respectively. On the other hand, the Bobby Parks trophy for best import went to San Mig Coffee’s Marqus Blakely.
Marqus Blakely lived up to his Best Import of the Conference award earlier in the day by leading his San Mig Coffee team to victory as they tied the finals series 1-1. James Yap led the locals in scoring with 17 points followed by double-digit numbers by PJ Simon, Joe Devance, and Marc Pingris.
In Game 3, Petron again took the series lead 2-1 even without floor general Alex Cabagnot who was down with plantar fasciitis. The loss of their only pure point guard was apparently not a problem as Elijah Millsap and the whole team chipped in for a blowout.
Arwind Santos named Most Valuable Player
It was a golden haul for Petron’s Arwind Santos as he was named Most Valuable Player at the 2013 Leo Awards before Game four of the finals. Meanwhile, Calvin Abueva bagged the Rookie of the Year award, with Alaska teammate Jvee Casio receiving his second straight Sportsmanship Award. Air 21’s KG Cañaleta was named Most Improved Player.
Members of the First Mythical Team were Arwind Santos, Calvin Abueva, LA Tenorio (Ginebra), and Talk ‘N Text and Gilas teammates Ranidel de Ocampo and Jayson Castro.
The Second Mythical Team consisted of Marc Pingris (San Mig Coffee), June Mar Fajardo (Petron Blaze), Sonny Thoss (Alaska), Alex Cabagnot (Petron), and Cyrus Baguio (Alaska).
Members of the All-Defensive Team were Marc Pingris, Arwind Santos, Sonny Thoss (Alaska), Marcio Lassiter (Petron), and Gabe Norwood(Rain or Shine).
Game 4 was almost a blowout revenge by the San Mig Coffee Mixers, but they squandered a 28-point lead to squeak past Petron, 88-86. Marc Pingris and Mark Barroca gave key baskets at the end of the fourth quarter to save the game for the Mixers.
It was a monster game for San Mig Coffee and former Gilas point guard Mark Barroca as he led the Mixers to a 3-2 finals series lead against Petron. He exploded for a double-double performance, scoring 22 points and adding even more scoring power with 10 assists. Barroca did not stop at offense as he effectively defended against his Petron counterparts and even a 6’4 import by the name of Elijah Millsap. Petron was a testy team to beat though, getting the lead back at multiple times during the game. Nevertheless, San Mig Coffee head coach, Tim Cone, utilized Barroca’s hot hands and the scoring expertise of James Yap and PJ Simon well.
Down 3-2 in the series, Petron needed their own fuel by the name of Elijah Millsap as they forced a do-or-die Game 7. The Petron import scored 30 points in another all-around game. Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz backed him up in the last quarter, giving Petron another day in the 2013 Governors’ Cup.
A dominant tournament was not enough for Petron to seal the 2013 Governors’ Cup trophy as San Mig Coffee, after a 1-3 start to the season, won their 10th franchise title. It was an expected tight race between the two teams, but Petron’s poorly made shots finally gave the championship to the determined Mixers. Marc Pingris lifted the Finals MVP trophy after scoring 19 points on 50% shooting in the last game.
It was a fitting end to a short but sweet 2013 Governors’ Cup. It was a well-deserved almost come-from-behind victory for the Mixers. Purefoods and San Mig Coffee fans couldn’t have had it any other way.