Star 99 – ROS 93
The Star Hotshots continued their strong showing in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday, beating the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 99-93.
Paul Lee led all scorers with 23 points, including three triples, while also adding four rebounds and five assists. Teammate Tony Mitchell notched a double-double of 21 points and 18 boards.
The Hotshots were without guards Allein Maliksi and Jio Jalalon, both of whom were selected to be part of the final Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the SEABA Championships next week. With the duo absent for Star, Lee and company amped up their game. The former Elasto Painter played efficiently in 32 minutes of action, while fellow guards PJ Simon, Justin Melton and Mark Barroca combined for 28 points.
One thing you can rely on for the Hotshots in this conference is their defense. On Saturday, they held the Elasto Painters to just 34 percent shooting from the field. And in the three-point area, where the defending conference champions consistently get their offense, the Hotshots limited them to a 6-for-26 clip.
Sean Taggart and Jeff Chan both had 20 points apiece, but outside of the two, Rain or Shine found little offense elsewhere.
But Rain or Shine did manage to put up a good fight against Star. The game was tied with less than three minutes to go as both teams went back-and-forth in the final period. However, Star was able to pull away thanks to a rim-breaking play by Mitchell. Holding on to a three-point lead, 94-90, Star’s Barocca missed his shot underneath, but Mitchell was there to clean up the mess as he went up for a putback slam that made the rim collapse. After Mitchell’s free throw (and after fixing the stanchion), Star’s lead grew to seven points.
The Hotshots improved to a 6-2 record, good for fifth place in the team standings. With their recent victory, they’ve also secured a slot in the quarterfinals.
Rain or Shine on the other hand drops to 4-4. Their next game isn’t until May 19 as PBA matches will be put on hold in light of the SEABA tournament. Rain or Shine will have a chance to rest, regroup, and reassess what they need to do over the remainder of the conference.