AN explosive second-quarter surge propelled Star to a vital victory as it trounced Blackwater, 111-95, to secure its second straight win that put itself in a good spot in the wild race for the quarterfinals in 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City yesterday.
Allein Maliksi had a fine performance, scoring a season-high 26 points to go with five rebounds to lead the charge for the Hotshots.
Four more Star chargers registered double-digit scoring, with Paul Lee having 15 points, four rebounds and four assists; Justin Melton also scoring 15; Jio Jalalon striking for 14 and Ian Sangalang notching 10.
This critical victory improved Star to 5-4 and it just needs to win at least one of its final two assignments to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals.
On the other hand, this second straight defeat was huge blow to Blackwater as it placed the team in a dangerous situation.
They wrapped up their elimination-round campaign at 5-6, their fate not in their hands anymore as they need to play the waiting game to see if they can enter the playoffs or not.
Once the smoke clears, only the top eight teams will move forward to the quarterfinals, with the top two earning twice-to-beat incentives against lower ranked foes.
As of now, top-ranked San Miguel Beer and current second-runner Phoenix are the only teams which are safely in the playoffs, while the other squads in the middle battle it out for the remaining six slots, with the eliminations dwindling down to the last few games.
One more team will be eliminated and join already ousted Mahindra, Meralco and NLEX in vacation.
Following a flat start wherein it trailed by six, 23-29, at the end of one, the Hotshots got their rhythm going in a snap to produce a blistering second-quarter blitz that eventually got them the win.
Riding the hot hands of Jalalon and Melton, Star whipped Blackwater by 20 points, 36-16, in the second to take a commanding 59-45 spread at the half.
The guard combo of Jalalon and Melton was mainly responsible for that, combining for 27 of Star’s 49 first half points with Melton having 15 and Melton 12.
Though Blackwater came within striking distance multiple times in the second half, Star remained in control as it was able to withstand each rally the Elite offered.
The Hotshots ended up strong as they did in the second period to get more point up in quotient for leverage.
After struggling in his last game, Arthur Dela Cruz made it a point to bounce back, scoring 11 points right away in the opening salvo to finish with a team-high 23 points for the Elite.
But his efforts weren’t enough as his team was hardly in the game from the second quarter onwards.
The scores:STAR 111—Maliksi 26, Lee 15, Melton 15, Jalalon 14, Sangalang 10, Barroca 8, Ramos 7, Dela Rosa 6, Pingris 5, Reavis 4, Brondial 1.
BLACKWATER 95—Dela Cruz 23, Pinto 13, Sumang 13, Buenafe 10, Aguilar 10, Sena 9, Belo 6, Miranda 5, Gamalinda 4, Cervantes 2, Ababou 0, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 23-29, 59-45, 78-70111-95
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