MANILA, Philippines – There was a green light to shoot. And so Aldrech Ramos let it fly.
The 29-year-old forward doused cold water on the San Miguel Beermen's red-hot rally to push the Star Hotshots to a 109-105 game 1 semifinals victory on Saturday, June 10 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ramos, a stretch forward that's complemented Star's second import Ricardo Ratliffe well in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup, heeded coach Chito Victolero's call for him to shoot late in Game 1 of the best-of-5 series.
He was told to stop hesitating. So he did.
The challenge fueled Ramos when he rose up from the top of the key and knocked down a defining 3-pointer that gave turned the Hotshots' precarious one-point lead to a 4-point cushion with 12.8 seconds remaining.
"Actually nung first medyo nagte-tentative ako noon, nakita niyo 'di ko tinira, na-shot clock ata," said Ramos, who finished with 11 points and 4 rebounds. "Sabi ni coach, kung libre ako, itira ko. 'Yung nakita ko 'yung chance na yun, grinab ko na. Luckily naman na-shoot siya."
(Actually at first I was tentative, you saw I didn't shoot it, it resulted in a shot clock violation I think. Then coach said I should take the shot when I'm free. So when I saw that chance, I grabbed it. Luckily it went in.)
Ramos' big shot snuffed the hope out of San Miguel, which erased a 14-point lead from the 3:17 mark and stormed right back into it with a 14-1 surge.
The former Far Eastern University Tamaraw shot 4-of-7 from the field after the game and was two-of-5 from deep prior to his make. Ramos provided quality minutes off the bench, tallying two steals and all told, he was a +7 asset in over 24 minutes.
"That's what I told Aldrech," Victolero said. "He's there to spread the floor. He was tentative in the last two minutes. I told (all of) them if you're open, shoot. Good thing Aldrech responded to my challenge."
Ramos, a former Gilas Pilipinas member, may have shined in the win-or-go-home moment and Star escaped unscathed, but it was still concerning that they blew such a double-digit lead towards the end.
"We need to finish strong because we had a good lead at the end of the game, but knowing San Miguel ang bilis nilang humabol eh (they catch up fast)," said guard Paul Lee, who was shut out and made just one field goal and a couple of charities for 4 points but managed to dish out 8 assists.
"Kahit na lamang ka ng 15 points, in two minutes kaya nilang mapababa yun. So lesson learned yun (Even if you're up 15 points, in two minutes they can wipe that out. So that's a lesson learned)."
Star will try to establish a strong 2-0 lead in game 2 of the series on Monday, June 12. – Rappler.com