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PBA: Star moves up, 3-2

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Game Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
5 p.m. – TNT vs San Miguel
(TNT leads series 3-2)

SMC calls Racela remarks ‘unfair’

The Star Hotshots were true to their word in playing with composure, scuttled a last-ditch rally composed of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s second stringers and won, 89-80, last night for a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven semifinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Star responded from two frustrating losses and criticisms surrounding the officiating by building a big lead in the third quarter with almost everyone playing their part in regaining control of the crowd-drawing series.

However, the Hotshots had to withstand a late uprising by Ginebra, which cut a 72-55 lead early in the fourth to only 87-80 after a three-point play by Mark Caguioa and a triple by Jayjay Helterbrand with 2:18 remaining.

Star failed to make a field goal the rest of the way, but got lucky when Ginebra missed its last four shots – two each from Caguioa and Helterbrand – to move one win shy of advancing to the finals against the winner of the other semis duel between TNT KaTropa and San Miguel, the former likewise up 3-2.

“My players refused to lose. We gathered together, we stayed together, we stayed positive. We commit to each other to focus on this game, no distractions,” said Star coach Chito Victolero, one of many personalities who were upset over the calls in Wednesday’s 93-86 loss at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Star will have two chances of beating Ginebra, the first being tomorrow night at the Big Dome. The Hotshots are hoping to do so with a variety looking to keep their fine form.

Meanwhile, coach Nash Racela would rather focus on the grueling task at hand than continue making statements about bad officiating as TNT KaTropa looks to finish off the San Miguel Beermen and advance to the finals tonight in Game 6 of their best-of-seven semifinal series at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Racela perhaps learned that the hard way after he was fined R20,000 by PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa for comments made after Game 4 when he said that the Beermen got some sort of “special treatment” from the referees.

He also upset the other side, particularly San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua, who, at halftime of Thursday’s Game 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, called Racela’s comments unfair during a press conference.

TNT, however, was able to make a huge response last Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum the veterans led by Kelly Williams and Jayson Castro stepped up in the fourth quarter and beat San Miguel, 101-94, to move a win shy of ending the Beermen’s run of two straight Philippine Cup titles.

STAR 89 – Reavis 17, Barroca 12, Lee 10, Maliksi 10, Simon 8, Brondial 8, Melton 7, Pingris 6, Sangalang 5, Jalalon 2, Ramos 2, De la Rosa 2.

GINEBRA 80 – Aguilar 13, Mercado 9, Ellis 9, Caguioa 9, Helterbrand 6, Cruz 6, Taha 5, Thompson 5, Tenorio 5, Ferrer 4, Mariano 4, Marcelo 3, Devance 2.

Quarters: 21-22; 49-45; 71-55; 89-80.