Star import Ratliffe, SMB's Rhodes rekindle Korean rivalry. See who has the edge
Ricardo Ratliffe flexes his muscles in a dominant performance against Star. Jaime Campos

STAR import Ricardo Ratliffe is ready to go to battle against mighty San Miguel Beer even if it means going the distance in their coming PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals showdown.

Ratliffe warmed up for the best-of-five series by posting huge numbers of 26 points and 24 rebounds as the Hotshots completed a sweep of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 84-69, on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Now Charles Rhodes and the second-seeded Beermen are up next for the Hotshots in a match-up which Ratliffe said is going to be fun.

In his first stint with the Hotshots last season, Ratliffe came a win short of helping the franchise reach the semis after losing to the Beermen in their do-or-die encounter in the quarterfinals.

“It’s going to be a tough, grind-it-out series. Two good teams that match up very well,” said Ratliffe, who hasn’t lost in five games since returning to take the place of Tony Mitchell.

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Ratliffe wasn’t around when the Beermen beat the Hotshots when they met in the eliminations, 103-97.

Rhodes pumped in 29 points on 11 of 14 shooting and had 10 rebounds in outplaying Mitchell during the two teams’ encounter last April 16.

But Ratliffe is out to give Rhodes a tough challenge as the two imports renew their rivalry dating back to their stint in the Korean Basketball League (KBL).

“Sometimes he beat me, but I won a championship,” he said Rhodes. “He’s a good player, though.”

“I’m ready for anybody,” added the Star reinforcement, who won a KBL title with the Ulsan Mobis Phoebus. “It’s going to be a good one. We’ll see.”

The 28-year-old native of Hampton, Virginia, though, has nothing but respect for the Beermen.

“We’re going up against a real tough team. They have June Mar (Fajardo), they have a great import in Charles Rhodes, Chris Ross, a great all-around team,” he said.

Both teams are so good that Ratliffe won't be surprised if the semis series goes the full route.

“Five games,” he stressed. “I’m pretty sure if you ask anybody in our locker room, they’ll say we’ll win. And if you ask anybody in their locker room, they’ll say they’ll gonna win."

“I think it’s going to be five (games). We’ll get it by one. Four overtimes. That’s a record,” he added of how he sees Game Five unfolding in his mind.

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