Coming off back-to-back losses, the Star Hotshots banked on a strong fourth quarter to slip past Blackwater, 96-90, on Saturday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Star has improved its win-loss record to 5-2.
The clutch baskets of guard Paul Lee and import Tony Mitchell allowed the Hotshots to outscore the Elite in fourth period, 31-20. In the previous quarter, Star was trailing, 65-70.
Lee, who tallied 15 points, five rebounds and five assists, provided the Hotshots a seven-point lead, 79-72, after completing a three-point play with still 7:35 to go. His two free throws further stretched his team’s advantage, 87-78, with 3:26 left in the game.
The Hotshots managed to keep the Elite at bay and protect their lead despite Mitchell’s absence in the last two-minute mark. Mitchell was fouled out with 1:56 remaining in the game.
“We really need to win this game going into the All-Star break because we have no game for two weeks,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero, adding that he is happy with the team’s defense. “In our two losses, we allowed our opponents to score over 100 points.”
Victolero was pertaining to their previous losses to San Miguel Beer (97-103) and Ginebra (98-113).
Mitchell led the Hotshots with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field on top of 15 rebounds and two blocks while rookie Jio Jalalon notched 13 points and five rebounds.
Allein Maliksi and Justin Melton contributed 10 points each. Mark Andy Barroca had nine points, six rebounds and five assists while Ian Sangalang added nine points and seven rebounds also for the Hotshots.
It was the Elite’s second last quarter meltdown since they lost to Meralco 91-102 last week. Blackwater’s record dropped to 1-6 after absorbing a second straight loss.
Nino “KG” Canaleta scored 16 of his 27 points in the first quarter. Import Greg Smith finished with 22 points, 29 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.
STAR 96—Mitchell 17, Lee 15, Jalalon 13, Melton 10, Maliksi 10, Sangalang 9, Barroca 9, Reavis 6, Dela Rosa 4, Simon 3, Javier 0, Brondial 0.
BLACKWATER 90—Canaleta 27, Smith 22, DiGregorio 11, Pascual 8, Sena 8, Cruz 6, Pinto 4, Gamalinda 2, Cervantes 2, Buenafe 0.
Quarter scores: 21-23, 48-42, 65-70, 96-90.