The Star Hotshots fended off Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 89-80, in Game 5 of the 2017 Oppo PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Star can advance to the finals with one more victory.
Leading the the Hotshots in Game 5 was Rafi Reavis. The veteran center scored 17 points, on 7-of-9 shots, and grabbed 13 rebounds. He also had two blocks.
“We just understood the gravity of this game. We know Tim Cone’s style. We knew if we didn’t get this game it would be impossible to get back into this series. It was a do or die for us,” said Reavis.
Mark Barroca chipped in 12 markers and dished out seven assists. Allein Maliksi had 10 points, all of which came in the second half.
Star coach Chito Victolero was pleased with the way his team bounced back from two straight losses.
“Although we had a two-game losing streak, it was about our mental toughness. We had a short talk yesterday and we commited to each other that we will focus on this game, no distractions, and that we just play hard and play to win. And I’m very happy my players nag-commit sila sa gusto naming mangyari,” he said.
Despite inching closer to the finals, Victolero expects a “very hard battle” on Sunday.
“We will play hard and prepare hard for Game 6. Alam naman natin si Coach Tim mag-aadjust siya, he’s a brilliant coach,” he added. “I hope yung positive attitude namin and the way we played today and the way we enjoyed the game, ganun pa rin sa Sunday.”
Star brought a four-point edge entering halftime, 49-45, behind Reavis’ nine points and seven rebounds. Aguilar, meanwhile, had 13 points and three boards for Ginebra. The Hotshots mostly dominated the stats in the first half. They shot 50% from the field, dished out 13 assists, and had a 15-point advantage over the Kings in bench production.
Star opened the third period with a 13-5 blast. Maliksi, who was held scoreless in the first two quarters, scored seven points in that surge to extend the margin to 13 points, 63-50. Ginebra made two consecutive baskets to bring the lead down to eight, but Pingris made a layup to keep the Hotshots ahead by 10, 3:18 left in the third.
Reavis led the charge for Star in the next few plays. He scored back-to-back baskets and had a block on Joe Devance that led to an Ian Sangalang layup on the other end to make it a 71-55 lead for the Hotshots heading into the final period.
Star widened the gap to 17 after two free throws from Peter June Simon, but a layup from Dave Marcelo brought Ginebra to within 13. In the ensuing plays, Paul Lee made a split from the line to push it back to a 16-point edge, 79-63, 7:11 remaining in the fourth. Paolo Taha knocked down a triple to trim the deficit to a baker’s dozen but Maliksi drilled a three-pointer of his own to put the Hotshots up, 82-66, 6:37 left.
Jayjay Helterbrand hit one from beyond the arc to bring the Kings within 12 points, 86-74. Reavis made a split from the line for Star to make it a 13-point lead, but a three-point play from Caguioa and another three from Helterbrand cut the deficit to seven, 87-80, 2:20 remaining.
Pingris was called for a travelling violation to give Ginebra another chance to come closer, but Helterbrand missed a three-point attempt. Star called a timeout with 43 seconds left but committed another turnover to give the ball back to the Kings. But Caguioa misfired a three and Lee made two free throws for the final tally.
Aguilar paced the Kings with 13 points and four rebounds. Caguioa, Chris Ellis and Sol Mercado each had nine points in the loss.
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
– Reavis’ 17 points and 13 rebounds was his first double-double over the last four seasons.
– The Hotshots have won every game in this series when they have 13 or more assists as a team.
– Star had a 44-32 advantage in points in the paint.
– Aguilar was the lone Ginebra player who finished in double digits.