Star broke the series deadlock with an 89-80 victory over Ginebra Game 5 of its semifinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup Friday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Hotshots are now on the cusp of clinching a Finals berth with a 3-2 lead after the Gin Kings won back-to-back to tie the series at 2-2.
Allein Maliksi gave the Hotshots an 82-66 lead with more than five minutes left but the iconic duo of Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa willed Ginebra’s bench to a 14-5 run to cut the lead to seven, 87-80.
Caguioa and Helterbrand scored Ginebra’s last nine points but their Kings fairy tale ended with 2:20 left
in game as Star prevented the Gin Kings from scoring from that point.
“My players were committed to what we wanted to happen, and that is to make this one a defensive game,” said Star head coach Chito Victolero. “My players refused to lose, we gathered together, we stayed positive, although we were on a two-game losing streak, it was all about our mental toughness.”
Star got the shorter end of the stick in Game 4 when Ginebra scored a controversial 93-86 win that saw Allein Maliksi, Jio Jalalon, and Marc Pingris get fined for their in-game actions.
“We committed all of our focus, no distractions, and we played and we played to win.”
Star held its ground and limited Ginebra to 29-of-69 shooting while getting a distinct 47-37 rebounding
LA Tenorio was the one mostly affected by Star’s defense as Ginebra’s star point guard shot a paltry 2-of-11 from the floor for five points.
Rafi Reavis came up big for Star as he led all scorers with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks while Mark Barroca added 12 points and dished out seven assists.
Japeth Aguilar had 13 points to lead Ginebra in scoring but grabbed just four rebounds.