Barangay Ginebra San Miguel used a balanced attack led by Jervy Cruz to beat the Star Hotshots, 93-86, in Game 4 of the 2017 Oppo PBA Philippine Cup semifinals Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The series is now tied at 2-2.
Cruz spearheaded the Kings with 21 points, including 11-of-13 from the stripe. He also had six rebounds and three assists.
The former UST standout played only 26 minutes but had the highest scoring output for the Kings in Game 4.
“Sabi nga ni Coach Tim basta anytime ready lang ako, kahit onting minutes o maraming minutes ibibigay ko lang lahat para makatulong ako sa team at maka-contribute ako,” Cruz said in the post-game interview.
Japeth Aguilar tallied a double-double of 18 points and 10 boards, while Chris Ellis had 10 off the bench. Sol Mercado and Kevin Ferrer added nine apiece.
The team effort showed by Ginebra earned praise from coach Tim Cone.
“We got a lot of help from guys other than Japeth and LA today, and that was huge for us. Guys like Dave (Marcelo), even Jervy stepped up, Chris stepped up especially on the defensive side,” said Cone. “We have guys that we don’t normally talk about but did all the work today. That’s a real good feeling from a coaching standpoint.”
Ginebra was holding a seven-point lead at the half, but Star went on a run and moved within one, 54-53, at the 5:40 mark of the third period after a floater from Paul Lee. The Lee-thal Weapon scored seven points in that surge, igniting the Hotshots to snatch the lead, 58-57, after a layup from Justin Melton and a free throw from Marc Pingris.
A three-pointer from Kevin Ferrer gave Ginebra a five-point advantage, but Jalalon made a jumper from the top of the key to bring Star to within three, 65-62, at the end of the third quarter. The Gin Kings opened the next frame with a 6-0 blast, capped by a layup from Sol Mercado, to go up 71-62.
Melton drained a jumper to stop the bleeding, but Mercado again broke loose on the other end for another layup. Ginebra gained another eight-point lead, 75-67, capitalized by a dunk from Japeth Aguilar with less than nine minutes left in the game. In the ensuing plays, Pingris connected on a semi-hook in the lane to make it a four-point game, 77-73.
Aguilar scored four consecutive points for Ginebra to extend the lead to 81-73, 5:36 remaining. After Star committed an error and the Kings missed on their next possession, Lee made a floater in the middle to chop the deficit down to six, but Aguilar responded with a baseline jumper and Jervy Cruz followed up with a pair of freebies to push Ginebra’s lead to 10 points, 85-75, 3:36 left in the game.
The Hotshots made two straight buckets to pull within six, 87-81, forcing Ginebra to call a timeout with 1:33 remaining. Tenorio drove in for a layup but missed, luckily for the Kings Aguilar was there for the putback. But Allein Maliksi responded on the other end with a triple to bring the lead down to five, 89-84, a minute left. Star almost forced a turnover but Maliksi fouled Mercado, who knocked down only one of his free throws, making it a six-point game again, 90-84.
The Hotshots had 38 seconds to salvage the game but misfired on two attempts from downtown before Rafi Reavis scored on a putback. But Ginebra sealed the victory after Cruz made a layup off a pass from Aguilar to make it 93-86, 20 ticks left.
Maliksi led Star by scoring 18 points, while Jalalon added 16.
Maliksi and Jalalon played stellar basketball in the first half for Star. The two combined for 25 of Star’s 41 points. Ginebra, meanwhile, was paced by Cruz’s nine points and Aguilar’ six points and four rebounds. The Kings shot 54% from the field, while limiting the Hotshots to 45%, and dished out more assists (10-3) in the first 24 minutes.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series will be played on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
GINEBRA 93 – Cruz 21, Aguilar 18, Ellis 10, Ferrer 9, Mercado 9, Tenorio 8, Marcelo 5, Caguioa 5, Thompson 4, Devance 4.
STAR 86 – Maliksi 18, Jalalon 16, Reavis 13, Lee 9, Pingris 9, Melton 7, Barroca 4, Ramos 4, Sangalang 4, Dela Rosa 2, Simon 0.
Quarterscores: 21-23, 48-41, 65-62, 93-86.
– It was the first time Ginebra scored more than 90 points in this series.
– A total of 12,178 people came to the Big Dome to watch Game 4.