MANILA, Philippines – This time around, it was the San Miguel Beermen who stood firm in crunch time to survive the Star Hotshots, 77-76, and tie their 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series at one game apiece at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday.
San Miguel’s comeback attempt in Game 1 fell short with Aldrech Ramos knocking down the dagger triple, but in Game 2 they were able to get a massive stop in the final possession to escape with a one-point victory and tie the best-of-five series at 1-1.
“Kahit one-point ‘yan, tatanggapin ko ng buong-buo,” San Miguel coach Leo Austria said after the game.
SMB import Charles Rhodes bucked a foul-prone performance to tally 21 points and 10 boards, and every single San Miguel starter finished in double-digits in their victory.
The Beermen hacked out the win despite Star import Ricardo Ratliffe going off for 25 points and 35 rebounds. It was the fourth-best rebounding performance in the PBA history, and the best since Jarrid Famous had 37 for GlobalPort in the 2015 Governors’ Cup.
The loss snapped Star’s 8-game winning streak.
San Miguel got off to a strong start, and looked on their way to a comfortable win after leading by as much as 16 points in the first half.
But Star outscored them 30-14 in the third quarter, paving the way for a back-and-forth affair in the final period.
Ian Sangalang tied the contest for the last time at 74 with 4:13 left to play, but Arwind Santos knocked down a booming three-pointer with 3:42 left to give SMB the lead for good, 77-74. It was Santos’ lone field goal of the contest.
Both teams blew their chances to score in the next three minutes, with Star’s Lee twice missing on triples, while SMB failed to take advantage of Rhodes’ mismatch against Aldrech Ramos inside the paint.
Star came to within one point thanks to Mark Barroca’s lay-up with 43.1 seconds left that made it 76-77. He was also fouled by Marcio Lassiter on the play, but shockingly missed the bonus free throw. Still, the Beermen left the door open for the Hotshots when June Mar Fajardo’s crosscourt pass was stolen by Barroca with 23 seconds left.
The Hotshots ran virtually the same play that led to Ramos’ game-clinching triple in Game 1, but San Miguel was able to get a stop and Lee’s runner badly misfired.
Here’s the final possession: pic.twitter.com/4HWrX3PzXT
— Camille B. Naredo (@camillenaredo) June 12, 2017
“We’re lucky that the last shot of Paul Lee did not connect,” said Austria.
“We were expecting that (play), and Charles was able to recover right on time. We’re aware of that pick-and-roll, and I told Charles to watch out for that pick-and-roll because they will do that again in the end,” he explained.
San Miguel failed to score in the final 3:42 of the game, and finished the contest making only 41% of their shots. The Beermen also missed 11 of their 22 free throws in the win.
Star had a 58-45 rebounding advantage, and had 16 second-chance points. They only made 35% of their shots, including only six of 22 free throws.
Jio Jalalon came off the bench to score a career-high 18 points, while Ian Sangalang had 12 points and four boards.
Alex Cabagnot had 13 points, while Fajardo managed 12 points and nine rebounds for San Miguel.
Game 3 of the best-of-five series is on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
SAN MIGUEL 77 – Rhodes 21, Cabagnot 13, Fajardo 12, Lassiter 11, Ross 10, Tubid 5, Santos 3, Espinas 2, Heruela 0.
STAR 76 – Ratliffe 25, Jalalon 18, Sangalang 12, Maliksi 5, Ramos 5, Barroca 4, Melton 4, Lee 3, Reavis 0, Simon 0.
Quarterscores: 25-16, 44-30, 58-60, 77-76.
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