The Star Hotshots survived the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings anew, 91-89, on Saturday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven semifinals of Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Combo guard Paul Lee took charge for the second time posting eight of his 17 points in the last period including an important crunch time basket.
“It is all about our big heart, effort, aggressiveness, our desire to win and everything,” said Star Hotshots coach Chito Victolero during the postgame interview. “I’m very proud of my players because they didn’t give up.”
“We knew Ginebra would bounce back, but it was all about our heart.”
Swingman Allein Maliksi finished with 14 points and four steals while playmaker Justin Melton had 11 points and five rebounds. Jean Marc Pingris added 10 points; eight rebounds and five assists, while Jio Jalalon and Rafi Reavis contributed nine points each also for the Hotshots.
The Hotshots controlled the first half establishing a 27-23 lead in the first quarter. They managed to keep the advantage at halftime, 45-40, behind Maliksi’s 10 points and Melton’s nine points.
With a narrow three-point lead at the end of third period, 72-69, the Hotshots were challenged by the Gin Kings in the pivotal fourth quarter behind the combined efforts of rookie Kevin Ferrer, Japeth Aguilar, Solomon Mercado and Earl Scottie Thompson.
Thompson, who scored 17 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting from the field on top of 10 rebounds and six assists, gave Ginebra an 83-81 lead with still 4:15 to go in the payoff period. Ferrer led the Gin Kings with a career-high 25 points.
But Melton’s basket and Lee’s two free throws allowed the Hotshots to regain the lead, 85-83, with 3:23 remaining. Aguilar, who posted 16 points and 15 rebounds, scored to even the score at 85-all with only 2:26 to go.
Jalalon and Lee scored a point each for the Hotshots, 89-85, heading to the last 58 seconds.
Luckily for the Hotshots, the three-point shots of LA Tenorio and Aguilar failed. Reavis scored via two free throws to seal the win for the Hotshots.
STAR 91 – Lee 17, Maliksi 14, Melton 11, Pingris 10, Jalalon 9, Reavis 9, Barroca 8, Sangalang 6, Ramos 5, Dela Rosa 2, Simon 0, Brondial 0.
GINEBRA 89 – Ferrer 25, Thompson 17, Aguilar 16, Tenorio 8, Mariano 7, Mercado 6, Cruz 2, Caguioa 2, Ellis 2, Taha 2, Helterbrand 2, Marcelo 0, Jamito 0.
Quarter Scores: 27-23, 50-45, 72-69, 91-89.