Keys to Victory: San Miguel-Star semis series | Inquirer Sports

Keys to Victory: San Miguel-Star semis series

/ 02:31 AM June 10, 2017

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

San Miguel may not want to admit it, but expectations of a Grand Slam are running wild in its locker room.

And what better team to get the chance to burst the Beermen’s bubble than the last franchise to have achieved that feat: Star.


In what is expected to be a series that would go the distance, San Miguel and Star cross paths anew in a surefire battle of attrition, this time in a best-of-5 series in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals starting on Saturday.


The Beermen gained the upper hand, 103-97, in their eliminations duel, but this is a brand new Hotshots squad armed with a familiar face aching to come back with a vengeance.

And as we prepare for a possible five grueling games between the two storied franchises, here are INQUIRER’s keys to victory for this series.

Guard play


Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter versus Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, and Peter June Simon.

There’s no denying how deep the backcourt firepower of these two teams, and it will largely depend on whose guards will shine come game time.

Cabagnot has came out of nowhere to snag the pole position in the Best Player of the Conference race, racking up 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.4 steals.

His standout showing has largely helped the performance of his fellow Beermen guards en route to averaging 23.2 assists per game (second-best) and 8.3 steals (second) as a team.

But the Hotshots are not too far off.

Star’s lead guard Lee is averaging 12.5 markers, 4.3 boards, and 4.1 dimes this conference with the Hotshots collectively sharing the rock (19.5 assists) and also getting it done on defense (8.0 steals).

If the Hotshots can match the three-headed monster that is the San Miguel backcourt, we may just see the Beermen’s Grand Slam dream toppled before they even get to their second crack at the crown.

Korea rematch

To say that Charles Rhodes and Ricardo Ratliffe are familiar with each other may be a huge understatement.

Meeting numerous times in the Korean Basketball League, the two are expected to be the main men for their respective sides when the Beermen clash against the Hotshots.

Ratliffe has had a memorable career in Korea, winning a title with Ulsan Mobis Phoebus in the 2013 season, while also keeping his side in title contention in the five years he has spent there.

And since returning to the Star camp late in the conference, he didn’t waste time imposing his will as he averaged 34.7 points, 21.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 3.3 blocks to lead the squad to the semifinals.

Rhodes, meanwhile, has yet to claim a title in his time in Korea, making him hungrier to bring home a hardware from here.

The mercurial reinforcement netted 28.4 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.6 blocks during this stint with the Beermen.

The question now is will Ratliffe continue owning Rhodes’ number, or will the brash import finally get what he thinks is rightfully his?

Five vs depth

By now, it’s a given that San Miguel has the best starting lineup in the league.

The numbers back it up, with the squad averaging a league-best 83.6 points per game with a lineup that consists of Cabagnot, Ross, Lassiter, Rhodes, and three-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo.

However, as is the case for the past few conferences, it’s the bench which remains suspect with the three-time Philippine Cup champs.

This time, Arwind Santos being placed in the bench unit has been the lone source of production for the slim Beermen motley crew as the second unit only averages 25.4 markers per outing.

That should be a huge problem for San Miguel, as Star can go on and unleash its upstart bench unit, with Jalalon and Justin Melton leading the parade.

The Hotshots have been one of the best teams this conference to make the most of their roster, averaging 41.3 points per outing, good for third best in the league.

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Can San Miguel’s top-heavy load be enough to negate Star’s balanced attack?

TAGS: Keys to Victory, Victory

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