SAN Miguel Beer saw the real Star stand up down the stretch, but the Beermen still stood taller as they held off the Hotshots, 103-97, to stretch their early streak in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Easter Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen established a sizeable lead before surviving a late scare by the Hotshots to pull off their third straight win, while handing Star its second straight loss after starting the conference with four wins.
Charles Rhodes continued to show he’s a perfect fit for the Beermen, while Chris Ross showed his scoring prowess that he usually just displays in the postseason as he scored the layup that proved to be the dagger for SMB.
“Alam namin from the start it will be tough game dahil galing sa talo ang Star,” SMB coach Leo Austria said.
“We came off a break nung Friday…pero ang laki ng tiwala ko sa mga players because they know how to win,” he added. “They knew the importance of this game.”
The Beermen cashed in almost every time Rhodes received the leather down low as the SMB import registered 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting, 10 boards, and one block to lead six players on his team who scored at least eight points each.
Ross, usually deferring to his teammates in the regular season, emerged as the top-scoring local with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, the last two on a the layup that put an end to the Hotshots’ run and gave them a six-point lead with 22 seconds left.
Before that, Paul Lee hit the triple that nudged the Hotshots closest at 99-95 with a little over a minute left after trailing by as many as 19 points.
Tony Mitchell led the Hotshots with 22 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and one steal before fouling out after 39 minutes of play.
SMB 103 – Rhodes 29, Ross 19, Lassiter 16, Santos 13, Fajardo 10, Heruela 8, Cabagnot 6, Espinas 2, Semerad 0, De Ocampo 0
STAR 97 – Mitchell 22, Sangalang 18, Lee 16, Maliksi 11, Barroca 10, Jalalon 9, Simon 7, Javier 2, Reavis 2, Ramos 0
Quarterscores: 27-26, 48-42, 77-65, 103-97