MANILA, Philippines (PBA Governor’s Cup): PJ Simon collared an offensive rebound for a put-back with 2.5 seconds remaining and lifted B-Meg Llamados to a 74-72 victory on Friday in the play-off for the second Finals berth in the 2011-12 PBA Governor’s Cup, the closing conference of the PBA season.
The win achieved, in front a 14,000-strong crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, earned the 2011-12 PBA Commissioner’s Cup winners the Llamados an opportunity to win their first ever back-to-back PBA titles when they take on Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, who are chasing their maiden title, in the Finals.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven Finals series is scheduled for Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I feel we really just got lucky with PJ (Simon) being there. We’re lucky and we take it,” said an excited B-Meg coach Tim Cone.
“This felt like a game 7 against Ginebra. It’s gratifying when you worked that hard. To win it makes the win a lot sweeter,” the coach added.
Import Marcus Blakely almost the entire game and his 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocks led the Llamados.
James Yap added 16 points and PJ Simon had 11 points, each of them also pulling 5 rebounds apiece.
Cedric Bozeman, Blakely’s opposite number in the Ginebra ranks led all scorers with 27 points.
Mark Caguioa had 14 points, but in a forgettable 7/26 shooting.
“We survived Ginebra, and now we try to go hard against Rain or Shine,” said Cone, who now has a chance to tie coach Baby Dalupan’s winning record of 15 championships.
“Admittedly, they’re (RoS) a tough matchup for us. (Jamelle) Cornley is a tough matchup for us. We’re gonna need big games from our guards; we gotta be creative and figure out mismatches. I think over seven games we’re gonna figure them out,” Cone said of his team’s rivals in the Finals.
Incidentally, Rain or Shine have an edge over the Llamados in the this year having won both their previous meeting – 100-94 Overtime win in the Elimination Round and the 92-82 drubbing on Wednesday, which sent the Llamados to this play-off game.