THEY ARE BACK: Ginebra ousts Star; sets Finals showdown versus SMB

0-2 to start the series. Never Say Die.

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel knocked out the Star Hotshots, 89-76, in a nerve-wracking clash in Game Seven of the 2017 Oppo PBA Philippine Cup Semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Tuesday.

The league’s crowd favorite arranged a Finals collision against the powerhouse San Miguel Beermen in front of 20,221 fans, one of which was Robert “The Big J” Jaworski. Head Coach Tim Cone made it a back-to-back finals appearance for the Kings.

Sol Mercado spearheaded the attack for BGSM, scoring 23 points and dishing out five dimes. LA Tenorio erupted for 21, while Japeth Aguilar posted 19 markers, 8/10 from the field, and five boards.

Ginebra looked to ride on momentum from their game six blowout win as they came out with guns blazing right from the opening tip. Joe Devance buried a triple to give the Gins a nine-point lead, 11-2, midway through the first period. The Hotshots were searching for answers with Head Coach Chito Victolero burning four timeouts early in the game. Mark Barroca drains 4 straight points to end the first.

Coach Cone’s crew opened the second frame with a 7-2 run to push their lead to 15, 33-18. Pingris roared the Hotshots back to cut the deficit to nine at halftime, 36-45.
Allein Maliksi fired 12 markers in the third canto to inch themselves closer by seven 52-59. However, Ginebra displayed poise just when Star was making their shots. Ginebra had every answer to the latter’s runs; good enough to hold a 65-61 lead after the quarter.

The Hotshots tried to rally for one last time as they came to as close as three capped off by an Aldrech Ramos jumper, 65-68. The Gin Kings shut the door down on Star after Tenorio daggered a trey to put the lead back to 13, 89-76.

Maliksi top scored for the Hotshots with 22 points. Marc Pingris had an all-around performance, tallying 17 markers, eight rebounds, and six assists, while Ramos added 14 and eight.
Paul Lee was limited to four points on 2/8 shooting.

Game One of the Finals between Ginebra and SMB will be on February 24, Wednesday at the MOA Arena.

SCORE:

Ginebra (89) – Mercado 23, Tenorio 21, Aguilar 19, Thompson 10, Devance 7, Cruz 6, Ferrer 2, Marcelo 1, Ellis 0, Caguioa 0.

Star (76) – Maliksi 22, Pingris 17, Ramos 14, Barroca 8, Reavis 5, Jalalon 4, Lee 4, Melton 2, Sangalang 0, Simon 0, Dela Rosa 0.

Quarterscores: 26-16, 45-36, 65-61, 89-76.