MANILA, Philippines – The Star Hotshots locked down on the defensive end and exploded on the other to deal defending champions Rain or Shine Elasto Painters a 118-82 blowout loss on Monday, June 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots, who peaked towards the end of the elimination round, maintained momentum and won 6 straight games since the eliminations. This is also the 5th time this year that Star won by more than 30 points, making them the first team to achieve such a feat, per chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
"I think we have the proper mindset," said head coach Chito Victolero, who is having an impressive first season so far with the Hotshots.
"We focused on our defense, we have a defensive scheme against their important players like James (Yap) and their imports. My challenge to the players was that this is the playoffs so we need to get to the next level."
Ricardo Ratliffe posted 29 points with 8 rebounds and two blocks, shooting a near-perfect 12-of-14 from the field.
Allein Maliksi and Aldrech Ramos added 16 and 15 points, respectively, off the bench as Star shot 61% from the field as a team.
Guards Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon combined for 22 points and 10 assists, with Jalalon pulling down 7 rebounds as well.
Paul Lee posted 9 markers and 10 dimes, helping set the tone and maintain control of the ballgame and leading the Hotshots' 32 assists.
Import Duke Crews came up with a 19-point, 13-rebounds effort for the Painters. He had help from Beau Belga's 18 points off the bench but it was far from enough to withstand Star's onslaught, which got out of hand in a 35-17 second quarter blast.
Rain or Shine trailed by as many as 41 points even as it shot more free throws (18-of-23) compared to Star (10-of-11).
The Painters equaled their third worst loss in franchise history, according to Mangonon. And it was also the worst ever loss by a defending champion in the past 25 PBA seasons.
Game 2 of this series is on Wednesday, June 7.
Star (118): Ratliffe 29, Maliksi 16, Ramos 15, Sangalang 12, Barroca 11, Jalalon 11, Lee 9, Simon 6, Abundo 5, Javier 2, Melton 2, Reavis 0, Mendoza 0, Brondial 0.
Rain or Shine (82): Crews 19, Belga 18, Tolomia 9, Chan 5, Yap 5, Tiu 6, Washington 4, Almazan 4, Cruz 4, Norwood 3, Trollano 3, Ponferada 2, Maiquez 0, Robles 0.
Quarter scores: 26-23, 61-40, 95-64, 118-82.