• Hotshots drown Floodbuster

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    Allein Maliksi led the Star Hotshots to a one-sided 124-87 win over the Mahindra Floodbuster on Wednesday, increasing the team’s chance of snatching the second twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

    The 6’4 swingman Maliksi, who averaged 25.5 points and five rebounds in the Hotshots’ last two games, finished with 33 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field including seven triples. The Hotshots improved their win-loss record to 7-4.

    Star Hotshots’ Marc Pingris drives around Alex Mallari and Jason Balesteros of Mahindra Floodbuster during a PBA Philippine Cup game at the Cuneta Astrodome on Wednesday. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

    “I’m just motivating myself to maintain my game and maximize my playing minutes,” Maliksi told reporters. “In the playoffs, I will focus on my defense and I’ll be ready because coaches will scout your game.”

    Combo guard Paul Lee tallied 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field plus five assists, while playmaker Jio Jalalon finished with 11 points and six assists also for the Hotshots.

    Point guard Justin Melton and forward Aldrech Ramos contributed 11 points apiece, while center Ian Sanggalang had 10 points and eight rebounds. The Hotshots dominated the Floodbuster in rebound (61-36), assist (30-19) and three-point shooting (18-8).

    It was the second time the Star Hotshots posted an all-time high record in three-point field goals (18-of-29). Their first was against Meralco (17-of-39) last Saturday in Antipolo.

    “It’s all about our defense,” said Star Hotshots coach Chito Victolero during the postgame news conference. “We prepared hard for this game and I challenged the players going to the playoffs. We need the momentum.”

    “We needed this win for our confidence and to solidify our hold of the second spot.”

    The Star Hotshots established a 41-19 lead at the end of first quarter behind the impressive performance of Lee, Maliksi and rookie Jalalon. The three have had a combined 20 points output in the first period.

    The Floodbuster’s porous defense allowed the Hotshots to extend the gap to 49-19 after Rodney Brondial’s two free throws with 10:12 to go. Lee and Ramos scored eight and five points in the second period to give the Hotshots a comfortable 68-40 lead at halftime.

    Maliksi remained unstoppable in the third period, notching 11 points including three treys to give the Hotshots a 93-60 advantage with only a minute left before the final frame.

    Mahindra scored five points in the last minute of the third period to reduce the deficit, 65-93. Led by Maliksi, the Hotshots dominated the Floodbuster in the remaining minutes of the game.

    It was another lopsided victory for the Star Hotshots that previously beat Meralco 120-73, Blackwater 111-95 and Talk ‘N Text 88-77.

    Alex Mallari and Nico Salva posted 15 points each to lead the Floodbuster. Mahindra finished the elimination round with a 3-8 win-loss record.

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