Barangay Ginebra got a huge lift from Jervy Cruz to frustrate Star, 93-86, Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum and tie their 2017 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at 2-2.
Cruz pumped in a season-high 21 points, including a three-point play with 20.2 seconds left, to seal the game.
“All we did is just tie the series and make it a best-of-three. I thought our guys showed great resolve today,” said Ginebra head coach Tim Cone. “If they can beat us twice in a row, we can beat them twice in a row.”
“It was another defensive battle. We just seemed to have control most of the game but they just hung around,” Cone added. “We got a lot of help other than Japeth (Aguilar) and LA (Tenorio) today and that was huge for us. Dave (Marcelo), Jervy and Chris (Ellis) stepped up.”
The Gin Kings took an 85-75 lead after Cruz sank two free throws with 3:36 remaining but they still had to fend off the Hotshots, who had one last fight in them as they pulled to within five on a 3-pointer by Allein Maliksi with exactly a minute to play.
But Cruz, who came just two points shy of matching his career-high, was brilliant all game long and it was only fitting that he delivered the game-clinching basket.