TONY Mitchell was so pumped up that he got off his seat from the VIP section at the Mall of Asia Arena as he cheered for Star on the other side of the court after Ricardo Ratliffe scored inside and put on the finishing touches in the impending victory.
If the original import was impressed of his replacement’s showing, then that says it all as Ratliffe delivered in his return to the Hotshots, anchoring the team in a 107-97 win over TNT Katropa in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup matchup on Wednesday night.
Ratliffe, who replaced Mitchell, registered 37 points, 22 boards, three blocks, and two assists as he led the Hotshots in erasing an early 16-point deficit to notch their seventh victory in nine games.
The Hotshots also broke a tie with the Texters in the standings as their victims dropped to a 6-3 win-loss record.
“We love Tony, but talagang kailangan lang namin si Ricardo,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said.
Like he did in their win against Rain or Shine last Saturday in Batangas, Paul Lee brought the Hotshots home as he scored eight of his 17 points in the final frame, the last on triple that gave them a 103-97 lead with a little less than three minutes left.
Ratliffe did most of his damage in the second quarter where he scored 19 of his output as the Hotshots outscored the Texters, 38-24, to lead by one, 60-59, at the half after trailing, 15-31, in the first quarter.
“We just needed a little more time in the first quarter to adjust because Ricardo was really adjusting to our defense, so we gave up a lot of points in the first quarter, especially against Greene,” Victolero said. “It’s not our (identity), because we base our system on our defense.”
After all, Greene scattered all but four of his 29 points in the first half, before the Hotshots tightened their defensive screws on the prolific TNT import after the halftime break.
The Hotshots completed a huge 28-point turnaround after they built an 84-72 lead in the third quarter, before they maintained a sizeable lead in the payoff period.
STAR 107 – Ratliffe 37, Lee 17, Simon 12, Ramos 11, Barroca 10, Sangalang 7, Melton 6, Reavis 5, Dela Rosa 2, Abundo 0
TNT 97 – Greene 29, Rosales 15, Williams 11, Reyes 10, De Ocampo 10, Tautuaa 6, Garcia 6, Hernandez 5, Carey 3, Tamsi 2, Sumalinog 0
Quarterscores: 22-35, 60-59, 87-79, 107-97