MALCOLM Hill continued to impress in showing veteran composure rarely seen in cagers of his age.
Down three with just 0.6 seconds left to go, the 21-year-old Star Hotshots import outsmarted Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar on a shot-fake before heading to the stripe for three pressure-packed free throws.
Stepping up to the line with more than 15,000 screaming fans - mostly praying for him to miss - Hill calmly sank his first free throw, then another one.. then the final one as Star forced Ginebra to an overtime.
Though they eventually lost the match, 105-101, in the PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday, Hill proved that he doesn't easily fold under pressure, something he credits to his college experience as a four-year starter for Illinois in the US NCAA.
"I played in front of 15,000 my whole career in Illinois, that's obviously nothing new. It's just people being loud. I practice free throws everyday. Just got to focus making one at a time," said Hill, who is in his first professional stint after college.
"It's just people being loud. You just have to lock them out and make those free throws," he added.
Not even the weight in a packed Big Dome could crack Hill's nerves of steel as he was given a brief introduction of the heated rivalry between the sister teams by his teammates and fans on social media.
"They told me about it. They showed the replay where they hit a three point shot to beat us. It's a very intense rivalry. People on social media telling me good luck for the big game, I'm aware of it," said Hill who finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, Hill remains optimistic that they can move on and bounce back.
For him, there is no shame, only lessons, in losing to streaking teams like Ginebra and Rain or Shine.
"There are things we could learn from the game. Ginebra's a tough team. They have a lot of offensive weapons," Hill continued.
"Just learn from it. We can’t worry. Losses happen. We didn’t get the stops. We're right there we lost to some talented teams. RoS is rolling, Ginebra is probably the best team here. We'll learn from it and hopefully get better."