Star boosts quarterfinal bid with rout of Blackwater

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—All of a sudden, from a team who was likely to make a Top 6 spot, Blackwater could even miss out the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal cut.

The Elite suffered a 95-111 beatdown by the Star Hotshots in a key elimination round matchup at the Cuneta Astrodome on Wednesday night.

Star used a 36-16 second quarter to turn a 23-29 deficit after the first period to a 59-45 lead at halftime.

Blackwater tried to turn the tides, cutting the lead down to three, 64-61, at the midway point of the third quarter, but Star held on and pulled away for good in the payoff period.

Allein Maliksi recovered from a scoreless first quarter and finished with 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting with five rebounds, one assist, and one steal, while Paul Lee also waxed hot late and chipped in 15 points with four rebounds, four assists, and two steals for the Hotshots, who are now assured of at least a playoff for a quarterfinal spot.

Justin Melton provided the early blast for Star with 15 points all in the first half on top of six rebounds, three assists, and one steal.

Arth Dela Cruz, a few days after being selected to the Gilas pool, led the Elite, who finished their elimination campaign at 5-6, with 23 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one steal.

The result gave idle Phoenix a free ride to the quarterfinals.

Box Scores:

Star 111-Maliksi 26, Lee 15, Melton 15, Jalalon 14, Sangalang 10, Barroca 8, Ramos 7, Dela Rosa 6, Pingris 5, Reavis 4, Brondial 1

Blackwater 95-Dela Cruz 23, Pinto 13, Sumang 13, Buenafe 10, Aguilar 10, Sena 9, Belo 6, Miranda 5, Gamalinda 4, Cervantes 2, Ababou 0, Pascual 0

Quarterscores: 23-29, 59-45, 78-70, 111-95

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