THE Star juggernaut was at it again on Wednesday.
The Hotshots continued to flaunt their dominant form as they walloped Mahindra, 124-87, at the Cuneta Astrodome to zero in on the second seed and the twice-to-beat advantage that comes with it in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
Coming off a 47-point blowout win over Meralco last Saturday, the Hotshots delivered on both ends again, establishing a huge lead they never relinquished to coast to their seventh win in 11 games - and first four-game win streak in the post-Tim Cone era.
Allein Maliksi sustained his sizzling streak, firing a career-high 33 points built around seven triples to lead the balanced effort of the Hotshots, who dealt the Floodbuster their eighth loss in 11 games at the end of their elimination campaign.
“I think mentally, physically, they’re ready (for the playoffs),” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero after the victory against his former team. “Maganda lang nilalaro at chemistry, but it’s all about the defense. I’m very happy na nakaka-react na sila sa sistema natin.”
After all, the Hotshots limited the Floodubuster to just 37-percent shooting after they made just 31 out of their 83 shots, while converting 47 of their 88 shots for an efficient 53 percent from the field of their own.
Paul Lee chipped in 16 points, five assists, three boards, and one steal, while Justin Melton, Jio Jalalon, and Aldrech Ramos added 11 points apiece. Ian Sangalang was the other Hotshots in double-figure scoring with 10 markers on top of eight boards and three assists.
Scoreless against Meralco, Marc Pingris had another low-scoring night with just two points, but again anchored the defense as he hauled down 10 boards and blocked two shots for the Hotshots, who led by as many as 46 points.
Alex Mallari and Nico Salva led the Floodbuster with 15 points apiece that went for naught.
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
Quarterscores: 41-19, 68-40, 93-65, 124-87