Star stifles TNT to tighten playoff race

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Star banked on its tough defense to trounce TNT, 88-77, in the main game of the PBA Philippine Cup doubleheader at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.

The Hotshots took control of the game through an 11-0 run in the first quarter and stretched their lead to as high as 19, 59-40, in the third quarter.

The KaTropa still put up a fight, keeping the Hotshots scoreless for 5:15 and coming to within seven, 77-84, with 3:11 left in the game.

That turned out to be TNT's last gasp as the team went scoreless from thereon and Rafi Reavis ended Star's drought with a dagger tip-in.

"The mindset is our defense versus their offense. Maganda yung game plan. Na-execute ng players. I'm very proud with them," said Coach Chito Victolero after the game

Ian Sangalang made 14 points, six rebounds, and one steal for the Hotshots, who forced a five-way tie for fifth to ninth places with their victims, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the Phoenix Fuel Masters, and the Alaska Aces, who lost to the Blackwater Elite earlier Sunday.

Ranidel De Ocampo led the KaTropa, who only scored a point in the final 3:49 of the game, with 21 points and three rebounds.

Box Scores:

Star 88-Sangalang 14, Maliksi 13, Ramos 13, Lee 10, Jalalon 9, Barroca 8, Pingris 7, Reavis 5, Dela Rosa 4, Melton 3, Simon 2, Brondial 0

TNT 77-De Ocampo 21, Castro 16, Pogoy 7, Rosario 7, Rosser 6, Tautuaa 6, Williams 4, Rosales 4, Fonacier 3, Reyes 3, Carey 0, Golla 0

Quarterscores: 20-12, 56-39, 73-62, 88-77

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno