Allein Maliksi finished with 26 points and five rebounds as the Star Hotshots routed the Blackwater Elite, 111-95, on Wednesday for their fifth win in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Maliksi shot 10-of-17 from the field including five triples while playmaker Justin Melton and combo guard Paul Lee tallied 15 points each. The Hotshots improved their win-loss record to 5-4, strengthening their chances of securing a quarterfinals berth.
“We know Blackwater can explode anytime that’s why I challenged my players to defend,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero during the postgame news conference. “Hopefully in upcoming games we stay consistent on defense.”
Rookie Jio Jalalon scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field plus four assists, while center Ian Sanggalang had 10 points and nine rebounds. Mark Andy Barroca contributed eight points also for the Hotshots.
“I told them this is the start of our playoffs. I know the boys are mentally tough they’re veterans even in practice they have a sense of urgency while enjoying.”
After trailing in the first period, 23-29, the Hotshots initiated a 36-16 run in the second quarter behind the strong performance of Maliksi and Melton resulting in a 59-45 lead for the Star Hotshots at the halftime break.
Blackwater narrowed the gap, 61-64, after James Sena’s jumper with 6:23 left to go. Bam-Bam Gamalinda’s basket also kept the gap at three points, 68-71, with 2:46 to go in the third period.
But Maliksi sustained his aggression in the second half, scoring 12 points to stop Blackwater’s third quarter surge. The Hotshots grabbed the lead, 78-70, entering the fourth period.
Lee stepped up in the fourth canto with 13 points to stretch the Hotshots’ lead by 21 points.
The Elite’s win-loss record fell to 5-6 after their fourth defeat in five games.
Art Dela Cruz notched 23 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field and six rebounds, while playmaker Shej Roi Sumang and Nards Pinto contributed 13 points apiece for Blackwater. Blackwater’s top rookie Mac Belo finished with mere six points and seven rebounds.