Devance leads way, Blakely catches fire late as Star repulses Ginebra

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Ginebra has gotten the better of Star in this PBA season prior to their Governors' Cup clash on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings were close to pull off another win against the Hotshots as they clawed back from 19 down to lead by six.

Marqus Blakely and Joe Devance haunted them in the fourth.

Blakely and Devance led Star's breakaway in the payoff period to take an 89-82 win against Ginebra for its first winning streak of the season-ending conference.

The forward duo combined for 17 of the Hotshots' 25 fourth quarter points as they crawled back from a big Ginebra rally to win back-to-back contests.

After letting Orlando Johnson score the first five points of the match, Star went on a 25-4 run to open a 16-point cushion at the end of the first period.

Ginebra began heating up and cut the lead to 11, 31-20, with 7:14 left in the second period.

The Hotshots uncorked a 9-1 run, all on triples, for their largest lead at 40-21 with 4:41 remaining in the second.

The Gin Kings closed the second quarter on a 13-2 run and continued the rally in the third, making the first eight points of the period to tie, 42-all.

Devance converted a triple to give Star the lead back, but Ginebra answered with an 11-2 run to take a 53-47 advantage.

The Hotshots kept in step and eventually retook the lead, 59-58, on a Rafi Reavis posterizer against Japeth Aguilar with 2:01 remaining in the third.

New signing Kim Ji-Wan fired a triple to put the Gin Kings back up, but Devance answered with a jumper of his own to tie the game, 61-all.

Johnson scored on his own mid-range shot to put the Gin Kings ahead again, but Mark Barroca answered with a three-point play and the Hotshots got the lead back. Barroca's and-one ignited a 17-1 run led by Blakely that pushed the Hotshots' lead to 14, 78-64, with 6:31 left in the final period.

Johnson sparked a 7-0 Ginebra run that cut the lead to seven, 78-71, with 3:32 left in the game, but Devance answered with five unanswered points to extend Star's lead back to 12, 83-71, with 2:37 remaining.

The Gin Kings had one final rally as their imports scored eight straight points that trimmed the gap to four, 83-79, with 1:14 remaining, but they lost steam in the end as missed shots and committed crucial turnovers down the stretch.

Devance led Star, now at the middle of the standings at 3-4, with 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting with eight rebounds, while Blakely, who struggled in the first three quarters, added 19 points, 19 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two steals.

Johnson had 35 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block for Ginebra, which dropped to ninth place with 3-5. Only the top eight teams will move to the playoffs.

Box Scores:

Star 89-Devance 26, Blakely 19, Barroca 12, Mallari 9, Yap 7, Simon 7, Taha 5, Pingris 2, Reavis 2, Pennisi 0

Ginebra 82-Johnson 35, Aguilar 18, Mercado 9, Kim 8, Slaughter 4, Caguioa 4, Tenorio 2, Marcelo 1, Urbiztondo 1, Pena 0, Brondial 0, Helterbrand 0

Quarterscores: 25-9, 42-34, 64-63, 89-82