Momentum on Ginebra as Kings, Star Hotshots battle for control in Game 5

February 16, 2017

Barangay Ginebra and Star, on even keel after four games, go at each other again Friday night, slugging it out for the pivotal 3-2 lead in their side of the PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal round at the MOA Arena in Pasay City. The Kings, enjoying the momentum of a two-game run, and the Hotshots, defiant despite their slide, clash at 7 p.m. with both aching to take the head start in what’s now a race-to-two-games duel. Not unlike the San Miguel Beer-TNT KaTropa face-off, the Ginebra-Star tussle has been marred by tantrums against officiating. Nonetheless, both sides promise to stay focused at the task at hand and pour it all in a bid to get to the doorstep of the finale of the league’s premier tourney. The Kings forged the two-game all deadlock in the series with a 73-62 win in Game Three then a 93-86 victory in the next game. Star team manager Alvin Patrimonio, coach Chito Victolero and players Marc Pingris and Allein Maliksi had their outburst or misconduct alluding to biased officiating in Game Four. PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa said he had a good talk with each one Thursday. Nonetheless, the league top honcho meted them fines for statements/gestures detrimental to the league. “We had good conversation. They had their views on officiating, but all in all we agree we’re trying our best to make it a fair game. And I think they acknowledged that,” said Narvasa. Victolero was called for a technical foul in vehemently protesting a non-call on what he thought a clear illegal travel committed by Dave Marcelo. He maintained the refs had crucial lapses that went against them, but owed up to their downfall for his flare-up. “It’s my mistake. I told the guys everything started from me. We lost because of me,” said Victolero. “I think I learned a lesson. I need to adjust, I need to focus on the game.” Victolero also credited the solid game put up by the Kings. Ginebra coach Tim Cone said desire and determination spelled the difference in their Game Four triumph. Then he stressed all they have achieved was just to tie the series. Cone hopes they continue to draw the needed help from their backups to main men Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio. Jervy Cruz came out with a personal season high of 21 points while Sol Mercado once again played tough defense against Paul Lee as the Kings made it two in a row versus the Hotshots Wednesday night. In Game Three, the Kings barely beat the Hotshots at endgame.