PBA Semis: SMB narrowly escapes Star Hotshots to even the series 1-1

    MANILA, Philippines - San Miguel Beermen survived Star Hotshots’ scary run and leveled the series 1-1 on Independence Day Ball Game on Monday, June 12 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    Charles Rhodes had the last laugh against his counterpart Ricardo Ratliffe
    Charles Rhodes had the last laugh against his counterpart Ricardo Ratliffe with 21 points. Photo Credit: ABS-CBN Sports
    “Saludo para sa mga Bayani ng Marawi.” Today marks the 119th Independence day of the Republic of the Philippines. As a sign of respect and gratitude to the modern-day heroes, both San Miguel Beermen and Star Hotshots paid a galant tribute to the valiant armed forces and police officers who sacrificed their lives in fighting for the country’s freedom against the ISIS-inspired Maute terror group in Marawi City.

    San Miguel Beermen and Star Hotshots honor the fallen heroes of Marawi City
    San Miguel Beermen and Star Hotshots honor the fallen heroes of Marawi City. Photo Credit: pba.ph
    Downed by 0-1, the second-seeded Beermen tried to atone their painful loss against their sister team and third-seeded Hotshots in game 1 by starting aggressive in both offensive and defensive ends. But Star thought the other way around and wanted to score another win over the Beermen. Ricardo Ratliffe placed his team on the scoring board with a back-to-back basket for the lead.

    6 minutes after the opening tipoff, all SMB starters had already scored and forced Star Coach Chito Victolero to call his first timeout of the game to extinguish the waxing hot hands of the Beermen.

    At the end of the first quarter, combo-guard Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross led all players with 7 apiece while rookie Jio Jalalon had 6 for Star. San Miguel was up 25-16.

    Coach Leo Austria let his 2nd unit started the 2nd period and opted to rest Charles Rhodes to preserve his import’s energy for the rest of the half. Meanwhile, Ratliffe took advantage of Rhode’s absence on the floor. But June Mar Fajardo proved that he’s too strong for the Star reinforcement by denying him several times under the rim.

    Charles Rhodes checked back in the game to give June Mar Fajardo a rest after sizing up against Ricardo Ratliffe. Mid of the second, Rhodes committed his 3rd personal and left Coach Austria no other choice but to pull him out and send Fajardo back to man the shaded areas. Likewise, Mark Barroca had also gained his 3rd personal foul that paved a way for Justin Melton to helm the point position.

    SMB’s Cabagnot and Lassiter surpassed the single-digit figures who both had 11 while Star’s Ratliffe had a terrific opening of 10 points and 21 rebounds. Despite Ratliffe’s big numbers, San Miguel led his team by 14 points 44-20 after the first full half.

    Charles Rhodes still can’t find his groove as he recorded his 4th personal at the beginning of the third. Star on the other hand, trimmed the lead down to 5 spearheaded by Jio Jalalon.

    Hotshots were doing a decent scoring run until Paul Lee hit the deck after an accidental collision with Chris Ross in mid air as the two guards fought for a loose ball. After just couple of minutes, another player hit the hardwood, this time it was June Mar Fajardo after absorbing an inadvertent headbutt from Ricardo Ratliffe. Fajardo though shocked, stayed on floor and played on.

    As the Hotshots slowly caught-up with San Miguel, Charles Rhodes sought permission from Coach Austria to help his teammates. Rhodes found a mismatch against Barocca in the middle for an easy basket that announced his entry.

    Up for as much as 16, the Beermen suddenly found themselves ahead by just a point, 55-54 with Jio Jalalon’s three pointer.

    At 0:41 mark of the third, Chris Ross clean-blocked Ricardo Ratliffe but the officials saw it differently and called Ross for a foul. In dismay, Ross contested the call but instead, he was slapped with a technical foul for continuous complaining. SMB’s misfortune turned around instantly in favor of Star Hotshots as they closed the penultimate quarter with the 2-point advantage, 60-58.

    San Miguel promptly recovered the lead as Ronald Tubid connected a trey and Charles Rhodes added 2 more by making 2 for 2 at the foul line. June Mar Fajardo chipped in too for the 5-point lead.

    Not too long, Justin Melton sank a long three to regain the lead for the 2nd time in the ballgame. Charles Rhodes however made another basket for the 4th deadlock, 72 all with 4:40 remaining. Just few seconds after Rhodes’ 2-pointer, Arwind Santos made his first points from the outside.

    Mark Barroca fortunately picked-up a bad SMB pass and took it all the way to the basket with a foul. However, Barroca missed his bonus shot that would've tied the game to 77 all. Hotshots had a chance to win the game after San Miguel missed few opportunities to widen their gap but Paul Lee’s last shot didn’t make it and officially handed game 2 to the Beermen with 77-76 loss.

    Ricardo Ratliffe posted a monstrous double-double stats with 25 points and 35 rebounds but it was Charles Rhodes who was hailed as the Best Player of the Game with 21 points and 9 rebounds.

    Game 3 will be held on Wednesday, June 14 at 7 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena and to be aired live by Sports 5.


    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

    Quarter Scores: 25-16, 44-30, 58-60, 77-76

    --Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express
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