MANILA, Philippines – The Purefoods Star Hotshots moved to 3-0 in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup by defeating the Blackwater Elite, 98-86, on Friday evening, February 6, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
A total of five Hotshots scored in double-figures, led by Marqus Blakely, who finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Marc Pingris had his best game of the conference with 14 markers and 7 boards, while Mark Barroca played a complete game off the bench with 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Allein Maliksi also had an impressive outing, putting up 12 points in 19 minutes while Justin Melton scored the same in addition to 4 steals.
Blackwater, who fell to 0-3 and lost their 14th straight game since entering the PBA as a new franchise this season, was led by their import Marcus Douthit, who put up a near triple-double of 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists.
“He’s so smart. He knows when to take shots, when to make passes. He really gave us fits all night,” Purefoods head coach Tim Cone said about Douthit, who has played for the Philippine national basketball team in a multitude of international competitions.
PJ Simon played his first game this conference despite still dealing with a back injury, but was on the court for just 6 and a half minutes and finished with 0 points on 0-of-2 shooting. The veteran scorer sat out the entire second half.
“PJ’s back started acting up at halftime, so he couldn’t play in the second half… he’s still day to day,” Cone said.
Blackwater and Purefoods exchanged baskets for most of the first quarter, with the game tied at 23-all after 12 minutes of play. The Hotshots turned momentum to their favor in the second period, where they outscored their opponents by eight.
With the match getting out of hand early in the fourth quarter, a basket by Bryan Faundo trimmed Purefoods’ lead to 10, 80-70. But in the ensuing possession, the Elite left Maliksi wide open from the corner to hit a 3.
In the following plays, Maliksi converted another easy jumper and Reavis was left open on the fast break, leading to an easy two points.
Blackwater cut the lead down to 13, but a turnover led to a breakaway alley-oop from Barroca to Melton that got the crowd up from their seats. With a little over four minutes to go in the game, Melton put the finishing touches by nailing an open triple from the corner.
Faundo had 14 points for Blackwater, while Brian Huruela pitched in 10.
The Hotshots forced 19 Elite turnovers that led to 20 points. They also dominated the battle in the paint, scoring 52 to Blackwater’s 32. Purefoods’ bench also stepped up, putting up 41 markers and earning praise from their head coach.
Friday marked the last game Blakely would play for the Hotshots in the Commissioner’s Cup, with former Kentucky Wildcat Daniel Orton expected to suit up in his team’s next game.
Orton, whose shooting hand is swollen, was listed at exactly 6-foot-9 by the PBA Commissioner’s Office, according to Cone. “Hopefully he can come in and keep us going,” he siad.
Blakely, on the other hand, is returning to the United States to nurse his injured shoulder.
“Marqus has a shoulder issue that he has to take care of,” said Cone.
“We’re hoping he doesn’t need surgery,” he later added.
Both teams will be back in action on Wednesday, February 11, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Blackwater will take on the San Miguel Beermen at 4:15 pm, followed by Purefoods vs. the NLEX Road Warriors at 7:00 pm.
Purefoods (98) - Blakely 23, Pingris 14, Barroca 13, Melton 12, Maliksi 12, Yap 9, Devance 7, Mallari 4, Taha 2, Reavis 2, Simon 0, Alvarez 0, Gaco 0, Allado 0, Pennisi 0
Blackwater (86) - Douthit 30, Faundo 14, Heruela 10, Gamalinda 9, Laure 6, Canada 5, Acuna 5, Bulawan 4, Celiz 3, Timberlake 0, Reyes 0, Nuyles 0, Erram 0, Ballesteros 0, Austria 0
Quarter Scoring: 23-23, 52-44, 74-63, 98-86