Star Hotshots blast Barako Bull to secure playoff spot

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Star Hotshots rebounded for back-to-back wins at the tail end of a rocky eliminations campaign after mandhandling the skidding Barako Bull Energy, 117-89, to strengthen its once perilous playoff bid in the 2015 PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday, June 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"Everyone contributed. That's what we've been looking for, that's what we've been missing this whole conference," said Star head coach Tim Cone. "I guess if you're gonna pick the right time to get your stride, now is the time, right before the playoffs."

After a subpar performance in the last two games, import Marqus Blakely exploded for 33 points on 12-of-18 shooting, along with 8 rebounds, 3 assists and two blocks for the Hotshots, which assured itself of a quarterfinals slot after sitting outside of the top 8 for most of the elimination round.

James Yap, who averaged just 6 points in the Star's last 3 games, came through with 17 points on 7 for 11 shooting and 7 rebounds.

PJ Simon went 3-of-3 from long range for 15 points off the bench. Alex Mallari and Allein Maliksi added 11 and 10 points, respectively, as the Star caught fire from beyond the arc with 16-of-36 three-pointers collectively.

Import Liam McMorrow posted 23 points and 12 rebounds for Barako Bull, while JC Intal contributed a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Nico Salva and Dylan Ababou had 11 markers apiece.

The Hotshots, which also out-rebounded the Energy by 50-35 and had 27 assists, sizzled with 5 three-pointers to open the game as they raced to a 21-7 early lead and Barako Bull allowed its foes 34 points for the entire first quarter. The lead then ballooned to as much as 53-29 late in the second frame.

The Energy, which once led the standings at 6-1 before dropping 4 straight games, never recovered from the deficit as Star, which also shot close to 50%, held its biggest advantage at 104-70 in the fourth.

Despite a 6-5 record to end the eliminations, Barako Bull is still assured of a playoff spot. The Star will have Blackwater for its last assignment.

Scores:

Star Hotshots 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, Hubalde 7, Pascual 4, Wilson 4, Garcia 2, Chua 2, Sorongon 2, Forrester 0, Yeo 0, Salvador 0.

Quarter scores: 34-20, 58-37, 86-62, 117-89.

 – Rappler.com