(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
Game 3, best-of-seven semifinal series
6:30 p.m. -- San Miguel vs. Talk N Text
STAR Hotshots kept its poise in the face of grinding pressure and turned to Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee and Rafi Reavis for the big plays in the closing moments to subdue Barangay Ginebra, 91-89, for a 2-0 lead in their semifinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Hotshots shattered an 85-all count through Jalalon’s basket and watched Japeth Aguilar commit a crucial offensive foul with 1:54 remaining, paving the way for Lee’s layup in the ensuing play for a 89-85 Star lead.
The Gin Kings refused to fold down, and threatened at 89-87 on Scottie Thompson’s basket with 35.9 seconds remaining.
Lee muffed a running jumper, but Reavis was there at the right place and at the right time to collar the rebound plus a foul to booth.
During inbound play, Reavis fished a foul from L.A. Tenorio and cooly sank two pressure-laden charities to give the Hotshots more breathing room, 91-87, with 7.9 seconds to go.
Following its last time out, Ginebra nevertheless got to connect in its play, 91-89, which proved to be the final tally in a game of spurts and rich in highlight plays.
“It’s all about our big heart and our desire to win,” uttered Star coach Chito Victolero moments after the win.
“Yung x and o siguro (ano na lang yon) secondary. 2-0 is nothing kung di namin papanalunin yung game 3. We need to win 4, so we need to prepare for game 3,” added Victolero, in his finest moments in coaching career.
“We know Ginebra will come back but we have to be ready for that. Ang respect natin para sa kanya (coach Tim Cone) ay napakataas. You cannot outcoach coach Tim. It’s about our preparation and our team effort, the coaching staff, the management, the players to win,” stressed Victolero.
The Hotshots, the winner in this conference during the 2014 season when they completed a Grand Slam, will gun for 3-0 lead when they play the embattled Gin Kings tomorrow at 7 p.m., also at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Both the Hotshots and the Gin Kings did very well in offense in the early goings, fighting to three deadlocks, the last at 18-all which the latter forged through Kevin Ferrer’s triple 3:13 left in the opening period.
The two teams then swapped a five-point cluster each to forge another deadlock at 23-all, before Allein Maliksi completed a rare four-point play to give the Hotshots a 27-23 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.
The Hotshots threatened to rip the game apart as they greeted the second period with back-to-back triples courtesy of Aldrech Ramos and Maliksi as Star went up, 33-23.
The Gin Kings quickly reacted to the Hotshots’ run by coming up with a 7-0 spurt ignited by L. A. Tenorio’s triple to move within 30-33.
A close battle erupted from there, although the Hotshots got to post a 48-41 lead as Melton sank a triple followed by Marc Pingris’ followup shot off Paul Lee’s missed triple.
The Hotshots hit the turn with just a 50-45 lead.
Meanwhile, Talk N Text found at least two things it must do to beat San Miguel Beer.
One is to focus more on defending the SMB’s snipers, to prevent them from contributing to June Mar Fajardo if at all the 6-foot-10 slotman could not be stopped.
The second is to minimize their errors, especially in a close game.
The Tropang Texers made some dramatic successes on both areas as they defeated the Beermen in Game 2, 87-85, in a victory that levelled their best-of-seven semifinal series at one game apiece.
Star (91) -- Lee 17, Maliksi 14, Melton 11, Pingris 10, Jalalon 9, Reavis 9, Barroca 8, Sangalang 6, Ramos 5, Dela Rosa 2, Simon 0, Brondial 0.
Ginebra (89) -- Ferrer 25, Thompson 17, Aguilar 16, Tenorio 8, Mariano 7, Mercado 6, Cruz 2, Caguioa 2, Ellis 2, Taha 2, Helterbrand 2, Marcelo 0, Jamito 0.
Quarterscores: 27-23, 50-45, 72-69, 91-89.