MANILA, Philippines — Star made true to their promise and came out with guns blazing, trouncing Barangay Ginebra, 89-80, to move one win away from the PBA Philippine Cup finals, Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It was pretty much a neck-and-neck affair between the sister teams in the first two quarters, but a 10-point run by Hotshots in the third frame left a taste too bitter for the Gin Kings. From that point on, the latter squad remained on the backseat.
In an affair that featured a surplus of individual skill, tactical might, sweet-shooting and prolonged cheers, it was the tandem of veterans Rafi Reavis and Marc Barroca that hogged the spotlight.
The two franchise old-timers combined for 29 markers to fend off a rally Barangay Ginebra tried to mount through the duo of their own— Mark Caguioa and Jay-Jay Helterbrand.
“My players refused to lose. We gathered together and we stayed together,” said head coach Chito Victolero. “Nag-commit sila sa gusto naming mangyari.”
And the team’s commitment yielded fruition: A return to form that led to their winning ways.
“We’re No. 2 in defense … We have a system and the tools to play good defense. Duduguin ka sa opensa eh, so kailangan lang ibalik ‘yung dati —‘yung depensa. And we needed to be consistent on that.”
Star’s pesky defense limited Ginebra to just 10 points in that crucial third period.
“I think that’s the difference between Games Four and Five. Hindi namin kailangang intindihin ‘yung sa labas ng laro,” he added.
“I hope the positive attitude, the way we played this game, sana ganun pa rin sa next game,” Victolero closed.
STAR 89 - Reavis 17, Barroca 12, Lee 10, Maliksi 10, Simon 8, Brondial 8, Melton 7, Pingris 6, Sangalang 5, Jalalon 2, Ramos 2, Dela Rosa 2.
GINEBRA 80 - Aguilar 13, Mercado 9, Ellis 9, Caguioa 9, Helterbrand 6, Cruz 6, Taha 5, Thompson 5, Tenorio 5, Ferrer 4, Mariano 4, Marcelo 3, Devance 2.
Quarterscores: 21-22, 49-45, 71-55, 89-80