STAR is known as a guard-oriented team, but San Miguel Beer showed its backcourt is as capable as the Hotshots’ in the Beermen’s 77-76 win in Game Two that knotted their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series at one-game all.
While the focus was on SMB forward Arwind Santos for hitting the go-ahead triple and Hotshots import Ricardo Rattlife for controlling the boards with a whopping 35 rebounds, the guards on each team spelled a huge difference in the result.
Mark Barroca made two crucial plays, scoring a tough layup then picking SMB’s pocket in the next play, only for Paul Lee to miss the potential game-winning floater.
The Beermen, on the other hand, relied on their guards earlier as Marcio Lassiter bounced back from a slow start to score all his 11 points in the first half, while Alex Cabagnot continued to add to his numbers in the statistical points standings for the Best Player of the Conference award.
Chris Ross, for his part, continued to run the show and put up numbers across the board.
“We're a guard-oriented team also,” Ross said. “We have really good guards, and we have really good bigs, so we're well-rounded. Them with Ricardo (Ratliffe) gives them a new element, he almost had forty rebounds today, so he plugs the middle for them and makes them a complete team.”
“I mean, after the last game, me, Marcio and Alex felt that if we play better, we would win,” he added. “So we took the challenge and we all played better than we did last game, and we ended up getting the win.”
Coming off a Game One where he stuffed the stats sheet with 15 assists, 10 rebounds, seven points, and seven steals in 39 minutes as a starter, Ross delivered another all-around performance with 10 points, including two triples, four assists, three boards, three blocks, two steals and just one turnover in 42 minutes.
Ross, though, took the blame in the third quarter where the Hotshots outscored the Beermen, 30-14, and completed a 20-point turnaround early in the payoff period.
“We knew they would fight back but we were able to weather the storm,” Ross said. “It was kind of on me as the point guard and as the leader that we came out like that in the third quarter but we were able to right the ship.”
Ross completed another outstanding showing with the assist to Arwind Santos, who knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer with over three minutes left as the Beermen pulled off the one-point win.
“That's what it’s all about in the playoffs, right?” Ross said. “Win by any means, ugly win, big win, doesn't matter, just win.”