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Star blitzes past SMB, forces do-or-die Wednesday

Photo by PBA

By Jason Espiritu

QUEZON CITY--Despite being the eighth seeds and being down early on, the Star Hotshots just kept on fighting.
They chipped away the San Miguel Beermen’s lead in the first three quarters until PJ Simon and Allein Maliksi broke the game wide open in the final chapter to win, 108-99, in the PBA Commisioner's Cup quarterfinals on Monday night at the Araneta Coliseum.

Ricardo Ratliffe almost posted a rare 30-30 game with 33 points and 29 boards. Maliksi and Simon added 23 and 22 points respectively for coach Jason Webb, whose Hotshots force a deciding third game on Wednesday.

Fajardo paced the Beermen on another double-double performance with 24pts and 13rebs, his best game this conference so far.

However, best import frontrunner Tyler Wilkerson had his second so-so performance putting up a measly 22 points, a far cry from his 36.9-point average.

The Beermen were in full cruise control in the first half posting double digit lead for most of the half. June Mar Fajardo came out swinging and looking like the two-time MVP force he is as they led by 11 at the break.

Everything turned around in the third canto as the Hotshots close the gap to within a solitary point entering the payoff period.
All game long Ratcliffe carried the Hotshots on his broad shoulders to keep them at a striking distance. 

But what pushed Star into the lead and control of the game was a 14-2 run in the final four minutes of the game. Maliksi and Simon jumpstarted the run via a booming triple and an layup for a three point play to broke an 89-all deadlock that took the fight out of San Miguel to force a knockout game on Wednesday night


Star 108 – Ratliffe 33, Maliksi 23, Simon 22, Barroca 10, Melton 8, Pingris 5, Reavis 5, Sangalang 2, Cruz 0

SMB 99 Fajardo 24, Wilkerson 22, Santos 16, Lassiter 11, David 8, Ross 8, Tubid 6, Cabagnot 2, Espinas 2, Arana 0, De Ocampo 0, Reyes 0

Quarter scores: 20-26, 42-53, 74-75, 108-99

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