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Maliksi sizzles as Star trumps TNT in Ratliffe's debut


By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--He may have injured both his ACL's, but Allein Maliksi can never be brought down.

Maliksi stole the show from the debuting Ricardo Ratliffe as Star stopped its early PBA Commissioner's Cup bleeding with a 96-88 win against Talk 'n Text at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.

Maliksi finished with a career-high 29 points as he led the Hotshots to the victory over the Tropa in an odd-and-even match between slumping clubs.

TNT opened the game blistering, erecting a 26-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, even stretching it to as high as 18 early in the second.

But Star immediately canceled the lead, going on a 38-point blitz later in the second and even took the lead at some points before settling for a 51-all deadlock at halftime as Maliksi began catching fire.

Led by Ratliffe, who will fill the spot left by Denzel Bowles when he left for the United States to attend the burial of a family member, the Hotshots tried to pull away in the third, opening a 62-55 cushion midway through the period, but the Tropa ended the quarter on an 18-4 run to take the lead, 73-66.

Star then slowly melt TNT's lead and eventually retook it, 81-79, midway into the final canto, but the latter remained in step, setting up a potential wild finish.

But Maliksi dropped a booming triple with 1:05 left that gave the Hotshots a 92-87 cushion as the Tropa lost steam in the end.

Known as a high-flyer, Maliksi converted six three-pointers the entire, becoming only the seventh player in league history to make that many treys in a perfect clip from downtown the entire game. He also had six rebounds and one steal while not turning the ball over throughout the match.

Ratliffe also made an impression in his maiden PBA game, tallying 23 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists as Star provisionally moved out of the cellar of the standings with a 2-4 record, tying its victim and GlobalPort, which lost earlier Sunday to Blackwater.

Jayson Castro led TNT with 18 points, three rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block.

Box Scores:

Star 96-Maliksi 29, Ratliffe 23, Yap 10, Melton 8, Barroca 6, Pascual J. 6, Pingris 6, Pascual R. 3, Simon 3, Reavis 2, Sanggalang 0, Taha 0

Talk 'n Text 88-Castro 18, De Ocampo 15, Simon 12, Ababou 11, Tautuaa 11, Fonacier 6, Rosser 6, Williams 4, Reyes 3, Rosario 2, Aban 0

Quarterscores: 13-26, 51-51, 66-73, 96-88

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno