Zeroes and Heroes: Ginebra-Star semis series | Inquirer Sports

Zeroes and Heroes: Ginebra-Star semis series

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 07:41 PM February 22, 2017

It takes a team to win and Barangay Ginebra played as one in knocking off Star in their best-of-seven semifinals series.

And the Gin Kings did it in comeback fashion, overcoming a 2-0 hole and a 3-2 deficit to make their second straight finals appearance after winning it all in the Governors’ Cup last season.

Ginebra drew contributions from the starters to its bench with a dangerous Star side getting the headstart and nearly pulling the plug on the Gin Kings’ bid.

Hero: Sol Mercado

Sol Mercado. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

Sol Mercado. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

Sol Mercado was the Gin Kings’ star on both ends of the floor. He hit the big shots and at the same time, shut down Hotshots’ main man Paul Lee.

Lee was super in leading Star to victory in Games 1 and 2, but he found his kryptonite in Mercado in the last five games of the series.

In Game 7, Mercado forced Lee, who never hit double digits from Game 3 onwards after averaging 17.5 points in the first two games, into his worst game of the series with only four points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field.

Zero: Aldrech Ramos

Aldrech Ramos.Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRE

Aldrech Ramos.Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRE

Much was expected from Aldrech Ramos and the veteran forward failed to live up to it.

Ramos was a vital piece for Star this conference but he was a non-factor in the semifinals against Ginebra.


With Allein Maliksi, who was also considered for this infamous recognition, playing inconsistently, the Hotshots badly needed Ramos to step up and provide what he’s known for which is his outside shooting.

But Star couldn’t get anything from its floor-spacer.

Ramos did have 14 points and four 3-pointers in Game 7 but the Hotshots would have appreciated it more had he showed up in the first six games of the series.

X-factor: Jervy Cruz and Joe De Vance

Ginebra's Jervy Cruz. PBA IMAGES

Ginebra’s Jervy Cruz. PBA IMAGES

Just when Ginebra seemed out of it, Jervy Cruz channeled his inner Growling Tiger and Joe Devance played through excruciating pain from a plantar fasciitis on his left foot to inspire the Gin Kings.

Cruz had a memorable Game 3 where he scored 21 points, coming just two points shy of matching his career-high, while Devance made the most out of his limited playing time, doing just enough to give his team a much-needed lift.

Turning point:

Ginebra looked like a beaten team after Star took a 2-0 lead.

But that was before Devance, in pain and all, suited up in Game 3 to boost the Gin Kings.

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Game 3 was also the start of Paul Lee’s decline in numbers with Sol Mercado locking him down all the way to Game 7 where the Hotshots guard was silenced.

TAGS: Aldrech Ramos, Ginebra Gin Kings, Jervy Cruz, Sol Mercado, Star Hotshots

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