Star still hot despite long layoff, pummels Phoenix

By Dugout Philippines

PASAY--Star kept its mastery of Phoenix as it scored a runaway 100-81 win Wednesday night to remain unbeaten in the PBA Governors Cup.

The Hotshots went on a big third quarter surge to pull away from the Fuel Masters for good and booked their fourth straight win to keep the solo lead in the season-ending tournament.

Coach Chito Victolero downplayed the Hotshots’ fifth straight win against Phoenix this season despite owning a winning margin of 28.5 points in their first four games prior to their meeting at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Siguro natatapat lang, medyo maganda lang yung mga mindset ng bata ngayon,” said the Star mentor, whose Hotshots played for the first time since Aug. 4 when they beat the San Miguel Beermen.

“We prepared hard for this game because we have a 19-day break. Medyo mahirap kasi wala kaming competition.”

This one against Phoenix was no contest the moment the Hotshots went on a third quarter tear behind import Malcolm Hill, who had nine of his 20 points scored in the period.

Star stretched a 13-point lead entering the fourth to its biggest at 95-75 on a three-pointer by Paul Lee.

"Angas ng Tondo" was the top local scorer for the Hotshots with 18, half of them came in the payoff period, while Aldrech Ramos, Mark Barroca, Allein Maliksi, and Ian Sangalang also contributed in double figures for the team.

Victolero said the Hotshots are bound to get even better as Gilas stalwart Jio Jalalon is set to rejoin the team, and so do veteran forward Marc Pingris, who finally saw action for the Hotshots after a five-month rest recuperating from a hip injury.

“Medyo mabigat din sa kanya dahil five months siyang napahinga. So we have to work on his rhythm. Kanina nga kausap ko siya sabi niya kinakabahan siya,” he said of the 35-year-old forward , who was held scoreless and had two rebounds and an assist in almost two minutes of play in his first game back from injury.

“Mas maganda yung kumpleto ngayon at least mas maganda yung rotation,” said Victolero, who asked Pingris if he wanted to play when the outcome of the game was already beyond doubt.

“Nung tinanong niya (Victolero) ako, sabi ko sige coach,” Pingris later said. “Si Mr. (Rene) Pardo din. Sabi niya para na rin sa mga fans.

“Pero ako mismo gusto ko ring maglaro, para lang kapain yung game ko.”

The loss was the fifth straight for Phoenix (2-5) – the longest losing streak so far in its short franchise history.

Import Brandon Brown had a double-double of 33 points and 23 rebounds, but committed 10 turnovers. Jeff Chan was the other player to finish in double figures for the Fuel Masters with 14, but never got back in the game after suffering cramps late in the third quarter.

Phoenix had a big edge in rebounding, 61-45, but had fewer assists, 18-11, committed more turnovers, 25-9, and had less steals, 13-5.

Box Scores:

Star 100-Hill 20, Lee 18, Ramos 13, Sangalang 11, Maliksi 11, Barroca 11, Brondial 4, Reavis 4, Dela Rosa 3, Melton 3, Simon 2, Mendoza 0, Javier 0, Pingris 0, Abundo 0

Phoenix 81-Brown 33, Chan 14, Intal 8, Jazul 6, Eriobu 5, Dehesa 4, Alolino 4, Kramer 4, J. Wilson 2, Hayes 1, Ababou 0

Quarterscores: 24-17, 49-44, 77-64, 100-81

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