From hero to heel and then hero again.
That was the night for Reggie Williams of San Miguel Beer on Sunday, when he almost threw away what he and the Beermen worked so hard for, before sealing a 92-90 win over San Mig Coffee on the defensive end at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Williams broke up the potential game-tying play of San Mig after bungling two free throws — which could have earlier sealed the deal — as the Beermen won a second straight game in the PBA Governors’ Cup to continue breathing down the necks of the leaders.
Before that, Williams had given the Beermen an 88-83 lead heading into the final 1:42, when he connected from close to 30 feet out off the glass for the last of his five three-pointers for the night.
“He is showing himself to be the best shooter that I have ever coach,” Todd Purves, the active assistant of the Beermen, told reporters. “But those two (missed) free throws almost ruined it for us.
“It was probably fatigue,” Purves continued after playing Williams for all but four minutes and getting 29 points, nine rebounds and six assists from his National Basketball Association veteran. “He has been pushing himself minutes-wise for the team.”
After those two flubbed free throws taken by Williams with 5.6 ticks to go, the Mixers had one chance to forge overtime or even win the game when Marqus Blakely snared down the rebound.
With San Mig having no timeouts left, Blakely was forced to take it down the floor himself, only for Williams to meet him at centercourt and strip the San Mig import of possession.
Williams simply ran out the clock as the Beermen rose to 2-1 after taking a tournament-opening loss to Alaska.
June Mar Fajardo was also big, shooting 18 points that went with the same number of boards, with Chris Ross firing 13 markers and issuing eight assists in just a 24-minute stint coming off the bench.
Blakely, the winner of the Best Import award last season who could help the Mixers complete a Grand Slam with a repeat title romp here, scored 31 points and had 19 rebounds.
San Mig dropped to 1-1.
In the first game, Rain or Shine notched its first win after finally playing to its potential, walloping Globalport, 119-97, in the first game.
Arizona Reid scored 30 points, had 13 rebounds and eight assists, and Jeff Chan backed him up with 19 with Paul Lee shooting 17 as the Elasto Painters finally won one after losing two straight to get back in the mix.
The Batang Pier, who upset Alaska, 95-91 just two nights before, opened up the second half with a whimper and never recovered, dropping to the same record as the Painters.
Globalport management has pushed the panic button and is sending Leroy Hickerson home for former Ginebra import Dior Lowhorn, even as Meralco, with a 0-3 record, has also called it a day with Terrence Williams and has recalled Mario West to prop up its sagging campaign.
In what could be the biggest off-court news on Sunday, Alaska team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu has given Luigi Trillo his walking papers and has tapped Alex Compton as the Aces’ new head coach effective immediately.
The Aces have failed to make the Final Four of the last three conferences after winning the Commissioner’s Cup last year with Robert Dozier as their import.
Quarterfinal exits in the next three conferences, even after Dozier returned for another tour of duty with the Aces in the last tournament, apparently did Trillo in.
“We are appreciative of Luigi’s efforts during his tenure as head coach and piloting the Aces to our 14th PBA title,” Uytengsu wrote in the official statement e-mailed to members of the media.
“But it has been a challenging ride the past three conferences,” he continued. “The Trillo name will always be fondly associated with the Aces, owing to the fact that Joaqui Trillo (Luigi’s father who retired at the end of last season), served as team manager for 25 years.”
Compton gets his baptism of fire on Monday when the Aces battle formidable Talk ‘N Text at 8 p.m. also at the Big Dome.
Alaska has a formidable local lineup and one of the most sought after imports in the lot in Henry Walker, another legitimate NBA vet. Nasty rumors have surrounded Trillo’s tenure as coach after that championship win, prompting management to step in and try to fix the problem.
This will be Compton’s first shot at coaching a PBA team full time. He played several seasons with the defunct Metro Stars in the MBA (Metropolitan Basketball Association) and played as an import for Rain or Shine in the PBA several years back before being an assistant to Trillo.
From hero to heel and then hero again.