By Dugout Philippines
QUEZON CITY--Star moved a win away from clinching a second straight semifinals stint after routing Rain or Shine Monday night, 118-82, in the opener of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters were only in the game until early in the second period before the Hotshots scored 13 straight unanswered points and pulled away for good in Game One of the best-of-three series.
Prior to the telling run, Rain or Shine was just within 30-29, before Star went on a rampage to post a 43-30 lead behind the hot-shooting hands of Aldrech Ramos.
And the rout was on.
The Hotshots now go for a sweep of the series when Game Two is played on Wednesday also at the Big Dome.
Ramos was one of six players in double figures for the Hotshots led by import Ricardo Ratliffe with 29 points and eight rebounds. Allein Maliksi added 16 markers, Ramos with 15, Ian Sangalang with 12 while guards Marck Barroca and Jio Jalalon with 11 each.
Despite dealing Rain or Shine its biggest setback since dropping a 43-point loss in 2009 against Ginebra, Star coach Chito Victolero though, remained magnanimous in victory.
“Defending champion kasi itong Rain or Shine, kaya hindi naming puwedeng balewalain ito,” said Victolero in his post-game talk. “So we still need to prepare hard for Game Two, so sana maging maganda uli yung laro namin.”
Import Duke Crews and Beau Belga were the only ones to score in double digits for Rain or Shine with 19 and 18 points, respectively. The sixth seeded Elasto Painters now need to sweep the next two games to advance outright to the semifinals.
Two-time MVP James Yap finished with just five points on a woeful 2 of 10 shooting from the field in his first playoff meeting against his former team.
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