Star Hotshots blast Elasto Painters; TNT topples Meralco at PBA Quarterfinals opener


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MANILA, Philippines - Star Hotshots gave Rain Or Shine a 36-point heavy beating in the main event while TNT snatched game number one from sister team Meralco at the start of PBA Commissioner’s Cup Quarterfinals on June 5, 2017 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Star Hotshots blasts Elasto Painters
Allein Maliksi and Ricardo Ratliffe dropped 16 and 29 points respectively for a blow-out win against Rain Or Shine. Photo credit: pba.ph
Prior to their best-of-three semis clash, Star Hotshots guard PJ Simon asked their governor, Rene Pardo that he would love to guard his former backcourt partner James Yap who was sent to Rain Or Shine in exchange of another gunner Paul Lee. Simon however failed to defend Yap at the start of the ballgame.PJ atoned his lapse by draining 2 consecutive triples for the 10-6 lead.

On the other side of the floor, Big Beau Belga started scoring from both the inside and the outside together with comeback-import Duke Crews. Belga had 12 early points while Crews supported his big man with 7 markers but it was the Hotshots who had the advantage after the first 12 minutes behind scoring leaders Ricardo Ratliffe’s 9, PJ Simon’s 6 and Paul Lee’s 5.

Aside from the usual Hotshot big guns, Coach Chito Victolero’s 2nd unit was still too hot for Rain Or Shine to handle. Marc Barroca, Ian Sanggalang, Jio Jalalon and Aldrich Ramos made their import’s job easy as they kept pouring down the points while Ratliffe single-handedly managed the boards. Midway of the second, Star was up by 14, 45-31.

All players that Coach Victolero had fielded in had already scored except for Justin Melton. Ratliffe with 13 and backed up by Ramos and Jalalon with 11 and 9 respectively. Coach Caloy Garcia had to use the halftime break to adjust his game plans especially on the defensive end to control the surging Elasto Painters who wrapped-up the first 2 quarters with 21-point, 61-40 advantage.

Jayson Castro PBA
Jayson Castro posted 25-7-6 for the game 1 win over Meralco Bolts. Photo Credit: pba.ph
Prior to the Star-ROS main event, the TNT Katropa drew the first blood against its sister team Meralco Bolts in their own best-of-three quarterfinals series. The game was tight and low scoring until the third quarter where Jayson Castro, Josh Smith and Moala Tautuaa went on a shooting spree to secure game number 1 to the tune of 102-84. Castro posted 25 points, rebounds and 7 to win the Best Player of the Game plum.

Marc Pingris, who’s been out since the early phase of this conference due to injury, was simply cheering from the bench in casual clothes. His defensive hustle and rebounding prowess haven’t been missed at all with Ricardo Ratliffe on board. 6’6” Ian Sanggalang and 6’8” Rafi Reavis have also been filling the void that Pingris has left in the center position.

The Hotshots increased their margin to 27 entering to the 6th minute mark of the third courtesy of Ricardo Ratliffe. Duke Crews on the other hand, tried to get his teammates involved especially in the scoring department in order to survive. Beau Belga was the only local player who was in double digits when the 2nd half had commenced.

Beau Belga was really having a good night with 18 points with over 4 minutes remaining in the third. However, bad luck almost hit him when he was called for a flagrant foul for hacking Ricardo Ratliffe. The officials reviewed the call and downgraded it to just a regular foul.

Ian Sanggalang and Allein Maliksi joined the double-digits club after the third period and posted Star’s 31-point, 95-64 lead marching onto the final quarter.

Coach Caloy Garcia had conceded to Coach Chito Victolero by benching his import and shooters at the start of the fourth. Coach Victolero somehow showed mercy on the Elasto Painters as he sat his starters and let his reserves finish the job.

With 5 more minutes remaining, Coach Victolero sent his seldom-used players in. Alvin Abundo, Chris Javier, Rodney Brondial and G Mendoza who all cherished the rare playing moment that Coach Victolero gave them.

Rain Or Shine finally bowed down to Star Hotshots after 48 minutes, 118-82 with Gilas Pilipinas’ newly found shooter Allein Maliksi topping all Star locals with 16 points and Ricardo Ratliffe overpowered his import-rival with 29 points.

Game 2 will be on Wednesday where TNT will try to finish Meralco off at 4:15 p.m. and Star Hotshots attempts to end Rain Or Shine’s Commissioner’s Cup campaign.

--Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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