MANILA (UPDATED) -- The Star Hotshots clawed back from a 21-point deficit as they battled the Alaska Aces to a wild finish in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome on Wednesday.
The Hotshots needed the extra five minutes to hack out a 102-98 win, but it’s all worth it as it gave them the solo lead, with a 9-2 win-loss slate, on the penultimate day of the elimination round.
“It was a grinding game. I know Alaska would come out strong but we had a bad start,” said Star coach Chito Victolero, whose wards played catch-up in the first three quarters.
The Aces, led by Calvin Abueva, banked on a strong start and erected a 73-56 lead over the Hotshots.
But Star came back in the fourth quarter, closed the gap, and seized the lead until Alaska’s Corey Jefferson knocked down a series of treys to force a game extension, 89-all.
The tit-for-tat scoring continued in overtime, but it was Justin Melton's triple in the final 26 seconds that heralded the Aces’ downfall. Ricardo Ratliffe sealed the deal for Star on the free throw line to hand the Aces their 7th-straight loss.
“It showed the team's character. It was a test of our character. We know we're in the playoffs but it's up to us kung saan kami makakarating,” said Victolero.
“We love to defend in the fourth quarter so ayun medyo maganda ang comeback namin.”
Ratliffe led the Hotshots with a double-double of 35 points, 28 rebounds, and five blocks.
Star ruined Abueva's 22-point effort for Alaska, which is now close to being shut out of the playoffs.
STAR 102 - Ratliffe 35, Lee 18, Melton 12, Sangalang 10, Jalalon 7, Ramos 7, Reavis 4, Simon 4, Maliksi 3, Barroca 2, Abundo 0, Brondial 0.
ALASKA 98 - Abueva 22, Jefferson 21, Banchero 19, Racal 13, Thoss 9, Manuel 6, Exciminiano 4, Enciso 2, Hontiveros 2, Pascual 0, Galliguez 0.
Quarterscores: 14-26, 34-47, 56-73, 89-89, 102-98.
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