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Star nears Finals

/ 01:11 AM February 18, 2017

Star’s guns were on target for most of Friday night and with its defense as unforgiving as ever, the Hotshots moved to the brink of making the PBA Philippine Cup Finals after an 89-80 Game 5 victory over Barangay Ginebra Friday before a boisterous gallery at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

And going into what could be the potential series-clinching game, Star coach Chito Victolero knows exactly what to expect as the great Tim Cone tries to extend the Gin Kings’ tournament this Sunday.

“We will expect the unexpected combinations,” Victolero said after steering the Hotshots to a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series and earning two chances to close out the Kings. “I really don’t know how coach Tim will think [in the next game]. I just know he’s great.”

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Rafi Reavis was the unlikeliest top scorer for the Hotshots with 17 and Star’s defense came through by allowing just one King to score in twin digits.

The Hotshots bolted away in the second half and led by as large as 17 to book its most impressive win of these playoffs.

“We will prepare hard and play hard [in Game 6] and play to win,” Victolero said. “We expect a hard battle on Sunday. I just hope that we can keep our positive attitude, continue to enjoy the game the same way we did today.”

Reavis, a defensive specialist all throughout his long career with several teams, also had 13 rebounds and made 7-for-9 attempts from the field even as Mark Barroca, Allein Maliksi and Paul Lee combined for 32.

Only Japeth Aguilar got away with a decent offensive game for the Kings, shooting 13—but he was held scoreless in the final two periods.

And Victolero sees the rest of this series taking the same defensive route.

“We will both bleed for our points,” he said in Filipino. “We are the No. 2 team defensively and they are No. 1. That won’t change. I have the materials to play hard defense and we will continue to do that.”

The Star defense forced the Kings to just 10 third quarter points, and the Hotshots were able to bloat a 49-45 halftime lead to 71-55 heading into the fourth, which proved enough to cushion whatever was left of Ginebra’s finishing kick for Game 5.

Reavis and Maliksi scored seven points each in the third.

TAGS: Chito Victolero, PBA, Philippine Cup Finals, Rafi Reavis, star
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