HUGE COMEBACK. Paul Lee (L) helps Star complete a 21-point comeback against Alaska. Photo from PBA Images
MANILA, Philippines – The Star Hotshots fought back from 21 points down and frustrated the Alaska Aces in overtime, 102-98, in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Wednesday, May 31, at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Hotshots made one cold-blooded shot after another in response to the Aces trying to salvage the victory after blowing a 17-point lead entering the fourth period.
Ricardo Ratliffe posted 35 points, grabbed 28 rebounds, and blocked 5 shots in almost 50 minutes of play as Star finished the eliminations with a 9-2 record and on 5-game win streak, still in the running for a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.
Paul Lee displayed his lethal clutch gene once more with 18 points off the bench, including a booming 3-pointer from way out that gave Star a 4-point lead with over a minute left in overtime.
Justin Melton was likewise clutch with a couple of treys in the extra session, the second one proved to be the dagger as the Hotshots regained the 100-98 advantage for good with 26 seconds to go. Ratliffe then iced the game with a pair of free throws.
The Hotshots went on a blistering 21-3 run in the fourth period to make it only a 3-point game with over 3 minutes remaining. They got their first taste of the lead with 5:30 left in regulation on a Jio Jalalon 3-pointer, as Star's guards finally came to life on offense.
It was another heartbreaking loss for the Aces as their tailspin now stretched to 7 straight setbacks after starting the conference at 4-0. The losing skid is now the franchise's longest since at least the era of famed coach Tim Cone, per PBA statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
Calvin Abueva fought tooth and nail, through cramps and hard falls, to save his team from another painful blow. But his 22 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, and two blocks weren't enough as Alaska continues to struggle with closing out games this conference.
Cory Jefferson, whose two free throws forced overtime at 89-all, finished with 21 markers, 13 boards, and 3 blocks.
Chris Banchero added 19 points and 7 assists, while Kevin Racal had 13 points and 8 rebounds.
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.
Quarter scores: 14-26, 34-47, 56-73, 89-89, 102-98.