June 13, 2017

Beermen try to build on momentum in crucial Game 3

San Miguel Beer and Star go at each other again Wednesday, disputing the pivotal go-ahead win in what is now just a best-of-three showdown in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup Final Four faceoff at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen and the Hotshots square off at 7 p.m. to continue what has been a slambang duel.

Ricardo Ratliffe and the Hotshots grinded out a 109-105 win in Game One then Charles Rhodes and the Beermen gutted out a 77-76 nail-biter in Game Two.

Both games could have gone either way, and it could well be an indication of a dogfight between the two teams all the way to a deciding Game Five.

Curiously, the Hotshots beat the Beermen in their own game in the series opener, then the reigning all-Filipino champs returned the favor in the next game.

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No team has really asserted itself in the first two games of this best-of-five playoff.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to bring out our arsenal in the next game. They dictated the pace of the game the last time with their three-guard combination that forced us to play a deliberate game. That’s not our game, just consider our average of 109 points a game in the elims,” said SMB coach Leo Austria.

“But for as long as we limit the production of their locals, we’ll have a good chance to win. It’s a given that Ratliffe will get his numbers,” Austria added. “For me, Ratliffe is the best import in this tourney. Charles (Rhodes) can argue but it’s up to him.”

Austria eggs his team to neutralize in particular Star top gun Allein Maliksi.

After exploding for 26 points in Game One, Maliksi was effectively contained in Game Two, held to just five markers.

Star coach Chito Victolero had his satisfaction on the way they fought back from 16 points down before nearly stealing Game Two.
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“I was happy with our defense, I was happy with the aggressiveness shown by our guys. We’re not just able to execute in the end,” said Victolero.

The young Star tactician is hopeful they will be able to carry over into the next game the positive things drawn in Game Two.

“They just tied the series. We’re still comfortable in where we are right now,” he said. (SB)