|Paul Lee (PBA Images)|
QUEZON CITY- For the third straight time this conference, and the second consecutive in the series, Star asserted its mastery over Phoenix.
The streaking Hotshots proved on Monday that they are simply no-match for the Fuel Masters as they hammered the latter anew, 91-71, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to advance to the PBA Philippine Cup Semifinals.
Newly awarded Player of the Week Paul Lee shone for the winning team, putting up 17 points behind four rebounds and nine dimes. Marc Pingris almost tallied a double-double as well with 16 markers and nine caroms while young guns Jio Jalalon and Ian Sangalang chipped in 11 apiece.
Star continued its astounding run in the conference and stretched its rolling streak to six, including an impressive four-game winning run at the homestretch of the eliminations and a couple of lopsided wins, making a case of becoming the frontrunner of nabbing the Philippine Cup title away from the defending Champs San Miguel Beermen.
Built around an overwhelming offensive firepower, the Hotshots turned up the notch in the second half to break away from a 42-35 lead at the half and send the exposed Fuel Masters packing at the end with yet another convincing victory.
They will enter the final-four stage for the first time since the 2015 Governors' Cup.
Rookie Matthew Wright paced Phoenix with 24 points and five rebounds, but the effort was simply not enough to extend his team's campaign in the tournament.
STAR- Lee 17, Pingris 16, Jalalon 11, Sangalang 11, Maliksi 8, Barroca 7, Ramos 6, Abundo 6, Melton 5, Brondial 4, Reavis 0, Javier 0, dela Rosa 0
PHOENIX- Wright 24, Enciso 12, Intal 10, Wilson W. 6, Borboran 5, Baguio 4, Wilson J. 3, Torres 3, Alolino 2, Kramer 2, Dehesa 0, Miranda 0
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