The Star Hotshots flaunted their explosive offense for the third straight game and rolled past the Mahindra Floodbuster, 124-87, as the elimination round of the PBA Philippine Cup drew to a close last night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Star made 53 percent of its shots, converting 18-of-29 triples to set a new franchise mark on its way to entering the quarterfinals on a high note with four straight victories to finish the elimination round with a 7-4 win-loss mark.
“We prepared hard for this game kasi I challenged the players na kailangan namin ng momentum going into the playoffs,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero.
The Hotshots were interested observers in the second game being played at presstime between the Alaska Aces and Rain or Shine Elasto Painters as the result would affect their placing in the quarters which starts this weekend.
Alaska, which entered the game with a 6-4 record, needs to beat Rain or Shine to book a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters. Should that happen, Star will be relegated to No. 3 and a best-of-three series with No. 6 Phoenix.
A loss by the Aces will hand the No. 2 spot and a twice-to-beat bonus to the Hotshots.
Allein Maliksi once again proved why he has become the Hotshots’ go-to-guy and the reason for the team’s rise by unloading a career-high 33 points on 11-of-14 shooting.
The 29-year-old Maliksi came off the bench and made seven of eight triples, most of which followed with the former University of Santo Tomas star flashing a money gesture to indicate his hot streak.
Paul Lee had 16 points, five assists and three rebounds even as Justin Melton, rookie Jio Jalalon and Aldrech Ramos, who is playing his former team for the first-time since being traded in the offseason, added 11 points apiece.
It has been an absurd last three games for the Hotshots – statistics-wise – posting an average of 118.3 points and a winning margin of 33 against Blackwater (111-85), Meralco (120-73) and Mahindra.
Alex Mallari, who had a triple-double against NLEX last Friday, was limited to 15 points, four rebounds and five assists for Mahindra in his first meeting against the team to which he played for four seasons.
Nico Salva contributed 15 points while Mark Yee added 14 for the Floodbuster which ended the elims tied for 10th and 11th with the Meralco Bolts at 3-8.
It has been a testy campaign for Mahindra, which lost its first five games after trading key players KG Canaleta and Ramos prior to the start of the season.
STAR 124 – Maliksi 33, Lee 16, Melton 11, Ramos 11, Jalalon 11, Sangalang 10, Abundo 8, Barroca 7, Brondial 6, Reavis 5, Pingris 2, Javier 2, Dela Rosa 2, De Leon 0.
MAHINDRA 87 – Salva 15, Mallari 15, Yee 14, Paniamogan 9, Revilla 7, Ballesteros 6, Teng 6, Celda 5, Apinan 4, Elorde 2, Eriobu 2, Galanza 2, Nimes 0.
Quarters: 41-19; 68-40; 93-65; 124-87.