ANTIPOLO – Star beat Alaska in its own game on Friday night, adding to the misery of the Aces with a 101-92 decision in their Governors’ Cup matchup at the Ynares Center.
The Hotshots engaged the Aces in a nip-and-tuck, defensive battle, before turning to new import Malcolm Hill on the offensive end down the stretch to pull off their second straight win.
The 21-year-old Hill showed maturity beyond his years as he calmly knocked down two pull-up jumpers that broke the hearts of the Aces and highlighted his solid debut for the Hotshots.
The Aces’ frustrations continued as they stayed winless in three games this conference and suffered a franchise-worst 11th successive setback since early April.
“Whenever we face Alaska, it’s always a close game … a grinding game,” Star coach Chito Victolero said. “We’re very happy that we stepped up on defense in the second half and we limited their transition points.”
Hill, who replaced the unimpressive Cinmeon Bowers, finished with 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting, 11 rebounds, and two assists in 38 minutes.
The former Illinois star, who’s making his pro debut, saved his best for last with the two pull-up jumpers – the first against two defenders in Vic Manuel and Jvee Casio, and the second one over Manuel off a crossover that gave the Hotshots a 99-91 lead.
Paul Lee also delivered with 18 points, five assists, four boards, one steal, and one block in 33 minutes, while Ian Sangalang added 16 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes for the Hotshots.
The Aces missed the services of Calvin Abueva and in-form rookie Carl Cruz, who was relegated to the reserve list to let him focus on his Gilas double duty.
Still, Alaska managed to put up a fight and came to within four points, 95-91, after Kevin Racal scored an off-balanced jumper that fished a foul and resulted in a three-point play with 2:19 to go, before Hill retaliated with his two dagger jumpers.
Buck Henton led the Aces with 34 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals in over 41 minutes, while Chris Banchero chipped in 21 points, seven caroms, six assists, and two steals that went for naught.
STAR 101 – Hill 28, Lee 18, Sangalang 16, Barroca 7, Simon 7, Maliksi 6, Reavis 6, Jalalon 4, Dela Rosa 4, Melton 3, Ramos 2, Brondial 0
ALASKA 92 – Henton 34, Banchero 21, Manuel 9, Thoss 7, Baclao 6, Casio 5, Enciso 4, Racal 4, Exciminiano 2, Mendoza 0, Hontiveros 0
Quarterscores: 27-29, 48-51, 74-71, 101-92