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PBA: Hotshots maul Barako, 117-89

Star Hotshots' James Yap drives past Barako Bull's Chico Lanete in this bit of action in the PBA Governors' Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, June 21, 2015. Photo by Ernie U. Sarmiento

Defending champion Star, back to its fiery form, crushed skidding Barako Bull, 117-89, and clinched a playoff berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Import Marqus Blakely scored 19 of his conference-high 33 points in the first half while James Yap recalled his MVP form to add 17 points as the Hotshots continued their big turnaround by winning four of their last five matches.

Star improved to an even 5-5 record, reviving hopes of avoiding a fruitless campaign with a third-straight Governors’ Cup title.

While the Hotshots continued their rise, the Energy’s coaching staff are now alarmed with their skid.

After going 6-1, the Energy finished the elims with a 6-5 mark.

Worse, it was the team’s second defeat of at least 20 points after Wednesday’s 120-98 defeat to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

“It was tough out there having to pour it on against (Barako Bull) coach Koy (Banal),” said Star Coach Tim Cone, who used to have Banal as part of his coaching staff.

“There was too much at stake, we didn’t know exactly what we needed. I just knew we had to keep pushing.”

“We’ve assured ourselves of the top eight with this win. It was a good all-around performance, everybody contributed. That’s what we need, now it’s the time to do that just before the playoffs… whether we’re twice-to-beat or twice-to-win, it doesn’t really matter,” said Cone, whose team faces Blackwater tomorrow.

Star found success on the boards against Barako’s 7-foot-2 import Liam McMorrow with a 51-35 advantage, with Yap and Blakely grabbing eight rebounds apiece.

Yap nearly doubled his 9.7-point average this conference by going 7-of-11 from the field with three triples.

McMorrow finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Energy, JC Intal had 14 markers while Nico Salva and Dylan Ababoun added 11 points apiece.

STAR 117 – Blakely 33, Yap 17, Simon 15, Mallari 11, Maliksi 10, Barroca 8, Pingris 6, Devance 6, Pennisi 6, Melton 3, Taha 2, Reavis 0, Gaco 0.

BARAKO BULL 89 – McMorrow 23, Intal 14, Salva 11, Ababou 11, Lanete 9, Hubalde 7, Pascual 4, Wilson 4, Garcia 2, Chua 2, Sorongon 2, Forrester 0, Yeo 0, Salvador 0.

Quarters: 34-20; 58-37; 86-62; 117-89.

RAIN OR SHINE 96 – McKines 26, Chan 14, Lee 12, Ibanes 10, Belga 9, Tiu 6, Cruz Jervy 6, Cruz Jericho 5, Almazan 4, Uyloan 2, Arana 2, Quinahan 0.

MERALCO 89 – Emmett 33, David 14, Dillinger 12, Hodge 7, Ando 6, Hugnatan 6, Cortez 5, Ildefonso 4, Nabong 2, Anthony 0.

Quarters: 21-30, 46-56, 70-68, 96-89