Star clobbers Ginebra in Game 5, nears Finals

February 17, 2017

The Star Hotshots whipped up a storm in the third quarter and clobbered the Barangay Ginebra Kings, 89-80, to move a win shy of wrapping up their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four face-off at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Friday night.

The two teams engaged in close duel through the first half before the Hotshots really got their act together in the third, making the first major run in the game and holding on to gain the pivotal 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven semis series.

The Hotshots pummeled the Kings, 22-10, to make a crucial separation in the third, 71-55, and refused to slow down to get into the doorstep of a first finals for the franchise since its grand slam run in the 2013-14 PBA season.

Coach Chito Victolero and his troops take their first of two cracks at the titular playoff in Game Six Sundayover at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Rafi Reavis, with 17 points and 13 rebounds, upstaged Japeth Aguilar with his best game in the season and the entire Star team seemed to be always a step ahead of Ginebra in this game -- a big key in stopping the Kings’ two-game charge in the series.

In the fateful third quarter, only three players – LA Tenorio, Jervy Cruz and Scottie Thompson – scored for the Kings.

With the Hotshots keeping their domination of the Kings in the fourth quarter, coach Tim Cone rested Tenorio, Thompson, Sol Mercado, Joe Devance and Aguilar with still long minutes left to play.

From 17 points down, the Kings managed to come within seven in the last two minutes on the energy and firepower provided by Jayjay Helterbrand, Mark Caguioa, Paolo Taha, Chris Ellis and Dave Marcelo.

But the Hotshots just won’t be denied despite the flat start of Marc Pingris, Allein Maliksi and Paul Lee.

Pingris picked up three early fouls while Maliksi fired blanks but the Star reserves picked up the slack as the Hotshots led 49-45 at the turn.

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Right upon substituting Pingris, Rodney Brondial rattled in eight points then PJ Simon, Jio Jalalon, Justin Melton, Ian Sangalang, Aldrech Ramos and Rome dela Rosa also made buckets as the Star bench outscored its Ginebra counterpart, 29-14, in the first two quarters of play.

Pingris incurred two fouls in the first four minutes of the game then drew a third one just 14 seconds after he checked back in the second quarter.

Reavis helped hold the fort for Star in the first half with nine points and seven rebounds as against Aguilar’s 13 markers and three boards.