The Star bucked a slow start to soundly beat Rain or Shine, 84-69, and claim a semifinals ticket on Wednesday in Game 2 of their best-of-three quarterfinals series in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Import Ricardo Ratliffe and playmaker Mark Andy Barroca joined forces for the Hotshots in the final quarter to book a showdown with No. 2 seed San Miguel Beer in the best-of-five semifinals.
Ratliffe unloaded 15 of his 26 points in the second half plus 24 rebounds and five assists dominating his counterpart Duke Crews in the match.
Barroca chipped in 12 markers, 10 posted in the final quarter, on top of five steals, five rebounds and three assists.
“We expect a grinding game today. The desire of Rain or Shine was there and prepared well against Ricardo,” said Star head coach Chito Victolero, who also drew 13 markers from Game 1 hero Paul Lee.
“But my players never gave up and their mental toughness was there. Our shooting was terrible, but I told the players to stay positive for the entire game,” he added.
Unlike in their 118-82 lopsided win in Game 1, the Star trailed early on and the game was still tied at 63-all with eight minutes left in the match when Barroca and Ratliffe joined forces for a telling 15-3 run resulting in a 78-66 cushion with 2:58 remaining.
Rain or Shine never recovered from that onslaught and bombed out of the conference.
Crews was slowed down by foul trouble and was the lone Elasto Painter to finish in double figures in scoring with 12. Jeff Chan and Chris Tiu each had nine markers while former Hotshot James Yap was held down to just three markers on 1-fo-5 shooting from the field.