• Hotshots target 2-0 lead versus Beermen


    San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo (right) defends against Star’s Ian Sangalang during the semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    The Star guns for a commanding 2-0 lead against Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer in Game 2 of their best-of-five semifinals series in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

    The Hotshots try to follow up their 109-105 victory in Game 1 last Saturday as they seek another win to move closer for a final seat.

    Star coach Chito Victolero expects the Beermen to go all out in Game 2 as they don’t want to go two games down in the series.

    “I’m expecting another grinding game on Monday. We know San Miguel won’t easily surrender,” said Victolero, whose wards leaned on Aldrech Ramos’ late triple to weather the comeback of the Beermen in the series opener.

    “It is really hard to beat San Miguel Beer and we know it is not yet over. We still need two more wins. All we can do is play together and stay positive,” he added.

    The Beermen almost stole Game 1 after slicing Star’s 104-90 lead to 104-105 with 41 seconds left.

    But Ramos drilled a huge three-pointer at the top of the key to give the Hotshots the needed cushion.

    Despite the Game 1 loss, head coach Leo Austria remains positive of their chances in the series.

    “I’m telling the players that this game (Game 1) should not frustrate us, but gives us the motivation to comeback,” said Austria. “We’ve been in this kind of situation before.”

    San Miguel was the only team in the PBA to recover from a 0-3 deficit in the best-of-seven finals series against Alaska last season in the Philippine Cup.

    Victolero will again bank on Ricardo Rattliffe, who had 26 points and 21 rebounds in Game 1, and he will be supported by Allein Maliksi, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca and Ramos.

    Beermen import Charles Rhodes also had a solid game in series opener with 34 points and 10 boards while three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo was the only one who ably supported him with 24 markers and nine boards.


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