The 2017 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal showdown between the Star Hotshots and the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel couldn't have gotten uglier, with Game 4 highlighted by a few questionable calls and second motions.
Lost in all the commotion are the unheralded players who have been turning heads with their unexpected performances. With Ginebra and Star's respective starting units offsetting each other, it's up to the reserves to make the difference in this tightly fought series.
Here are the ballers who virtually came out of nowhere.
Star's super subs
At 39 years old, the Star big man is still battling with the best of them in the paint. With Marc Pingris, Reavis has successfully held down the fort as an enduring inside presence capable of those timely rebounds, blocks, and dunks.
The spitfire swingman has finally come to play, top-scoring for the Hotshots with 18 points (4-9 3PM-A) in Game 4. Never mind the controversial gesture (and his comical alibi), Maliksi is cooking at the right time.
The prized rookie rewarded coach Chito Victolero's trust with a breakout game as a starter in his last outing. Early on in the series, the 'Bus Driver' had put up decent numbers, challenging NCAA counterpart Scottie Thompson.
Ginebra's 2nd gear
The former UAAP MVP and champion proved to be the hero in Game 4, as he carried the offensive load for Ginebra (21 points, 11-13 FTM-A). Cruz is quietly giving coach Tim Cone more reasons to give him more minutes.
Ellis has been expanding his repertoire as one of the more reliable options in the Barangay's thin bench. Having reached double figures in a couple of games, and expect the aerial artist to keep on firing at will with this newfound confidence.
He shouldn't really count as a reserve, having started all semifinal games for his squad. But earning the nod from the hobbled Joe Devance—and eventually solidifying his spot—is testament to his strong play off the bench (25 points in Game 2).