Put under siege by a desperate Alaska side, Star stood strong and kept its perfect record intact in the 2017 PBA Governor’s Cup.
American Malcolm Hill made an immediate impact in his debut and served as the steadying presence as the Hotshots warded off the Aces, 101-93, on Friday in Antipolo’s Ynares Center.
Hill had 28 points and 11 rebounds and looked like a perfect reinforcement head coach Chito Victolero. “We know he can do that. Yun naman talaga nagustuhan namin sa kanila,” the head coach said of his new player who replaced first choice Cinmeon Bowers.
Most importantly, it was his back-to-back hits inside the last two minutes that kept Star’s opponents at bay for good and claimed their second straight win to start the tournament.
Alaska, undergoing struggles that are unprecedented in its franchise history, played with urgency and was in command for majority of the matchup.
However, it was always only a matter of time until the Hotshots put their fully-loaded arsenal to good use. Dropping no less than 26 points in the last two quarters, they erased what was once a deficit of as much as nine.
With 2:19 remaining, they were only ahead by four, 95-91, until Hill’s back-to-back hits.
The first of those proved to be the backbreaker for Star as its import muffed on two tries, but also had a teammate of his collar the rebound. Third time was indeed the charm and he finally scored on a short stab.
Following another defensive stop, Hill then showed off his stroke with a midrange jumper for a 99-91 advantage in his team’s favor.
The Aces would not be able to threaten for the remainder of the game.
Paul Lee contributed 18 points and five assists and Ian Sangalang chipped in 16 points and eight rebounds of his own to help their team climb to a share of first in the standings.
On the other hand, things have gotten worse for Alaska which saw its longest losing slide in franchise history extend to 11 – three in the current conference and eight in the previous conference.
LaDontae Henton led them in the losing effort with 34 points and five rebounds.
STAR 101 – Hill 28, Lee 18, Sangalang 16, Barroca 7, Simon 7, Maliksi 6, Reavis 6, Jalalon 4, Dela Rosa 4, Melton 3, Ramos 2, Brondial 0.
ALASKA 92 – Henton 34, Banchero 21, Manuel 9, Thoss 7, Baclao 6, Casio 5, Enciso 4, Racal 4, Exciminiano 2, Mendoza 0, Hontiveros 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 27-29, 48-51, 74-71, 101-92
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