San Mig gets victory vs. Painters and No. 2 seeding
San Mig gets victory vs. Painters and No. 2 seeding
San Mig came up with two critical defensive gems inside the final nine seconds last night and prevented a Rain or Shine repeat by escaping with a 93-92 win that virtually gave the Mixers No. 2 seeding in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs.
Before a crowd of more than 15,000 at the Araneta Coliseum, the collective San Mig defense stopped Jeff Chan and Beau Belga from nailing the game-winning attempts for the Elasto Painters, who nipped the Mixers, 80-79 last October despite being down by 18 points in the third period.
In their second meeting, the Mixers were 13 points up on the Painters at the halfway point of the fourth and they seemed headed to a cruise until Rain or Shine gave itself a chance for another steal with a shade under nine seconds left.
Chan and Belga both had their attempts changed because of the San Mig defense as the Mixers improved to 9-2 and would have two chances to nail the win that would formally give them the No. 2 seed.
Defending champion Talk ‘N Text sealed top ranking last week after defeating Petron Blaze, 95-82, with Rain or Shine, which dropped to 8-5, staying in third spot and will play No. 6 in a best-of-three series.
Nos. 1 and 2 will play Nos. 8 and 7, respectively, needing to win just once to advance to the Final Four. Nos. 4 and 5 battle it out in another race-to-two affair to determine the fourth semifinalist.
“You have to give that (Rain of Shine) team a lot of credit because they kept coming back,” San Mig coach Tim Cone told reporters. “We made a couple of stops in the last nine seconds.” Chan put the Painters within that one-point difference with 11.5 seconds left after wisely picking up a foul from Marc Pingris while going for a three-pointer.
After making the three free throws, the Rain or Shine defense forced Peter June Simon to make a passing error with the Painters getting the ball back with nine seconds remaining.
But a repeat of that October comeback wasn’t meant to be, as Chan’s drive was thwarted by Rafi Reavis and then Belga’s running jumper was changed by a triple team in the lane.
The playoff picture, incidentally, got muddled up with the result of the first game, when Barako Bull buried Barangay Ginebra in a hole so deep that the Express pounded out an 83-79 decision.
Barako Bull snapped a four-game losing streak with the win and rose to 4-9, now tied with idle Air21 for eighth spot with both squads having a game each left.
The Energy limited the Gin Kings to nine points in the second period and to a measly 26 for the first half as they led by as many as 15 in the fourth period to eventually put a halt to Ginebra’s five-game winning streak.
Barako Bull will have a tougher final assignment compared to Air21 as the Energy will close out against the Painters and the Express to finish up against newcomer Globalport.
Ronald Tubid scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth period, highlighting his heroics with a key running jumper off the glass with 1:35 remaining that gave the Energy a 76-69 lead.
Ginebra was held to its third-lowest offensive output in the tournament and dropped to 7-6 overall, now tied with idle Alaska and Meralco.
‘Good, but not good enough’: Juan Antonio Pizzi on Saudi Arabia’s defeat to Uruguay
- A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half gave Uruguay a 1-0 win
- Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance
ROSTOV-ON-DON: Good, but not good enough.
That was what Juan Antonio Pizzi stated as he declared himself pleased with his team’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Wednesday night.
But he lamented his side’s lack of firepower as they exited the World Cup after just two matches.
Pizzi had spoken passionately about the need for his side to demonstrate a higher level of focus and performance in Rostov-on-Don after losing their opening game 5-0 to hosts Russia in Moscow last week.
The Argentine got his wish with a display that saw the Green Falcons fight throughout and edge possession against a Uruguay side ranked 14th in the world.
A Luis Suaréz goal midway through the first half after poor goalkeeping from Mohammed Al-Owais, however, was enough to hand the Green Falcons a 12th successive World Cup defeat.
The result means that even with a win against Egypt on Monday, the Green Falcons are no longer capable of progressing to the knock-out stages from Group A.
“We had a lot of ball possession and were able to impose our style of play and distribution,” said Pizzi. “We conceded a goal from a random play and didn’t have the weapons or tools to try to equalize. We kept the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively, but lacked that ability to score.”
Indeed, for all their possession, Saudi Arabia have managed just three shots on target in 180 minutes of football. Against Russia, they failed to muster a single effort on target and the managed just three against Uruguay, two of which came in the final minutes when they knew they had to score or face elimination. None of the three shots came from a striker.
“This is our weakness. We have good ball possession, but no effectiveness. We lack the depth and skill required to win these games,” Pizzi added. “We have that deficiency and have looked for solutions, but we haven’t quite come up with one yet. But that is one of the reasons great forward are in high demand and are the elite players in world football.”
Pizzi had made four changes ahead of the match, dropping goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf in favor of Al-Owais and introducing Ali Al-Bulayhi at the heart of the defense alongside Osama Hawsawi. Further upfield, Hattan Bahberi came in for Yahya Al-Shehri and Fahad Al-Muwallad replaced Mohammed Al-Sahlawi. The changes, particularly the inclusion of Bahberi, seemed to give the side more impetus in midfield.
“The difference between the performance in the first game and this game is enormous,” Pizzi said. “The only way to compete at this level is to play at the level we did here. And even then it was not enough even to get a draw. Undoubtedly there were other factors aside from the pressure of playing in the opening game that made a difference, but it’s true that the difference was enormous.”
Many critics had predicted a deluge of goals from the likes of Suarez and Cavani, yet both were kept at bay. Save for a couple of half-chances early on, neither came close to scoring until the 23rd minute.
A corner from Carlos Sanchez sailed into the area and when Al-Owais came for it but failed to connect with his punch, Barcelona forward Suaréz was left with the simplest of tap-ins. He was so caught off-guard, he actually looked surprised as he reeled away in celebration.
“I believe you cannot be relaxed in any match,” Suarez said when asked by a Uruguayan journalist whether he had taken it easy against the Saudis.
“We wanted to win and to progress to the knock-out stage and this game simply showed how difficult it is. That’s the World Cup for you though and we are obviously delighted with how we have performed so far to progress.”
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not share his striker’s sentiments.
“Saudi Arabia wanted to excel and give a better account of themselves after losing to Russia,” he said.
“They did that very well and we have to respect them. But what surprised me the most is how we played. We underperformed.”