STAR shrugged off a late rally by Barangay Ginebra as it hacked out an 89-80 victory on Friday night to move on the cusp of reaching the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
The Hotshots banked on a breakaway in the third quarter where they outscored the Gin Kings, 22-10, to build enough cushion to withstand their late stand in the fourth period to pull off the win in Game Five of their semifinal series.
Rafi Reavis sustained his resurgence, tallying 17 points and 13 boards to lead the Hotshots, while Mark Barroca, Paul Lee, and Allein Maliksi also put up solid numbers for a starting unit that greatly outplayed their Gin Kings counterpart.
The Gin Kings’ starters failed to find rhythm, so much so that coach Ginebra coach Tim Cone turned mostly to his role players in in the payoff period.
The Hotshots thus atoned for back-to-back losses, including a 93-86 defeat in a Game Five where they were left frustrated seemingly every after foul called on them.
“We committed to focus on this game,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said. “No distractions, we played hard and played to win.”
“It’s all about effort. My players refused to lose,” he added as his team can advance to their first final appearance in the post Cone-era with a win in Game Six on Sunday at the Big Dome.
Reavis keyed the victory as the 39-year-old slotman was all over the place, grabbing rebounds and tipping in misses, as he scored seven points in the third quarter where the Hotshots extended a four-point halftime lead to 16 points heading into the final frame.
Rodney Brondial gave the Hotshots an early lift by scoring all his eight points in the first period, before PJ Simon too over in the second canto where he pumped in all but one of his eight points.
Japeth Aguilar led the Gin Kings with13 points, but was held scoreless in the second half where Mark Caguioa and Jayjay Helterbrand sparked their comeback that fell short
STAR 89 – Reavis 17, Barroca 12, Lee 10, Maliksi 10, Simon 8, Brondial 8, Melton 7, Pingris 6, Sangalang 5, Jalalon 2, Ramos 2, Dela Rosa 2
GINEBRA 80 – Aguilar 13, Mercado 9, Ellis 9, Caguioa 9, Helterbrand 6, Cruz 6, Taha 5, Thompson 5, Tenorio 5, Ferrer 4, Mariano 4, Marcelo 3, Devance 2
Quarterscores: 21-22, 49-45, 71-55, 89-80