The Star Hotshots win their seventh straight game to go up 1-0
After defeating their last six opponents by a huge margin, the Star Hotshots proved that they can grind it out.
The Star Hotshots rallied back from 10 points down during the second frame, hitting the biggest shots in the clutch to take a 78-74 win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to go up 1-0 in their semifinals series, Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Center in Quezon City.
“Yun naman talaga expectation namin, [this series] is going to be a grind,” said first-year Star Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero.
Paul Lee proved why he is worthy to wear Star’s red and gold, leading the Hotshots with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting. And he provided the biggest shots when Star badly needed it.
With Star up by just two points with 25.4 second remaining, the 27-year-old spun past two defenders, beating the wide-stretched arms of Japeth Aguilar and the shot clock, knocking down a high-arching floater to turn the game into a two-possession game, 78-74.
“May halong suwerte na rin but Paul Lee and Marc Pingris have big hearts,” Victolero remarked about his veterans. “The whole team actually,” he added.
Star icon Marc Pingris provided everything he could possibly give the Hotshots in the game, scoring nine points, grabbing 12 rebounds, stealing the ball successfully thrice, and swatting away three Ginebra shots.
“It’s all about our team effort, our team defense,” Victolero added.
Behind Chris Ellis, Ginebra led by as much as 10 points, 35-25, during the second frame. But once the Hotshots zoned in, they slowly chipped into the lead, getting their first taste of the lead with 6:50 left in the third canto after consecutive baskets by Ian Sangalang and Justin Melton.
“Lahat ng ginamit ko were willing to step up,” Victolero, who is in his first semifinals series, shared. “Even down to the bench, they enjoyed every single moment. Yun yung dinedevelop pa namin, chemistry.”
The game was tied four times during the final frame as Sol Mercado, who scored seven of his 10 points in the final quarter, tried to rally Ginebra back. But Lee’s will was not to be denied, countering everything Ginebra tried to give.
Six-year veteran Mark Barroca added 17 points, while Jiovani Jalalon added six points and nine rebounds. The two also helped limit LA Tenorio to just eight points in 40 minutes of game time.
Ginebra shot 40 percent from the field compared to 38 percent for Star. The Hotshots were able to force the Gin Kings to commit 24 turnovers, however, which led to 18 Star points.
Ginebra’s bench outscored Star’s 37-27 and were led by Chris Ellis’ 12 points off the bench.
Game Two is set to take place on Saturday, February 11, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Star (78) – Lee 18, Barroca 17, Pingris 9, Sangalang 8, Maliksi 7, Jalalon 6, Reavis 5, Melton 5, Dela Rosa 2, Ramos 1, Brondial 0.
Ginebra (74) – Ellis 12, Aguilar 11, Cruz 10, Mercado 10, Tenorio 8, Thompson 7, Ferrer 7, Marcelo 5, Mariano 4.
Quarterscores: 19-14, 38-37, 60-58, 78-74.