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Game Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – Star vs San Miguel
(San Miguel leads series 2-1)

The San Miguel Beermen look to capitalize on the big breaks they got in the last two games to dispatch the Star Hotshots tonight in Game 4 of their best-of-five semifinal series in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

San Miguel inched closer towards a return trip to the finals after a dramatic 111-110 victory in Wednesday’s Game 3 courtesy of a stepback three by Marcio Lassiter with 1.6 seconds remaining.

Lassiter’s triple allowed the Beermen to pull off another escape act after Monday’s Game 2 ended with the Hotshots’ Paul Lee missing a runner in the final seconds for a 77-76 win.

Coach Leo Austria is expecting another close call against Star, which claimed a 109-105 win in the series opener Saturday and eager to force a knockout game on Sunday. But the SMB mentor confident that the momentum in his side favor given the manner of the way it took Game 3.

“If you’re in the situation of Star, they will do everything to tie the series,” Austria said. “But I think with this kind of situation, the momentum is on our side and I hope na hindi na namin pabayaan ito.”

SMB seemed headed for defeat after it allowed Star to rally from a four-point deficit with six straight points of import Ricardo Ratliffe to take a 110-108 lead with 13.8 seconds left.

Chris Ross missed a game-tying layup, but a tap by import Charles Rhodes bounced into Lassiter, who took a few dribbles before draining the winning trey off Justin Melton that delighted his teammates, coaches and fans.

“It was kinda cool to be in that moment,” said Lassiter, before recalling a near-similar shot that didn’t count in Game 2 of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup semis against eventual champion Rain or Shine.

“It was just like a split second like a 0.1 and I didn’t get it off. I’m just kinda glad that this one went in,” he added.

Hotshots coach Chito Victolero rued the missed chance of retaking the series lead, even resorting to expressing some “Hugot” words after the game.

“Kung baga parang nabreak ako ng girlfriend ko, nasaktan ako, so kailangan kong mag-move forward,” said Victolero. “So di pwede yung experience na to laging nasa minds namin. I know mahirap kalimutan, pero kailangan namin gawin.”

Ratliffe had another productive showing for the Hotshots with 44 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks, but Victolero declared that he has yet to show his full arsenal.

“Meron pang ilalabas yang si Ratliffe. Hindi pa yan ang best game niya,” Victolero said of his prized import, who also grabbed 35 rebounds in Game 2.

Rhodes and Ross did everything the last time, which could bode well for the Beermen’s bid to enter the finals for the fifth time since Austria took over in 2015.

Out to derail their journey and force a decider are the Hotshots’ local core of Lee, Aldrech Ramos, Melton, Jio Jalalon and Allen Maliksi.

What do you think?

Written by Jonas Terrado

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