Star Hotshots weather endgame storm to deal Fajardo-less San Miguel a rare defeat
Ian Sangalang made some clutch free throws and game-saving plays to keep Star's head above water in the face of a late SMB rally. Jaime Campos

STAR proved to be one of San Miguel Beer’s top threats in its grand slam bid as the Hotshots outlasted the Beermen, 104-98, to remain unbeaten in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Hotshots saw the Beermen were still a tough customer even without the injured June Mar Fajardo, making comeback attempts from a couple of double-digit leads, before proving steadier down the stretch to pull off their third straight win.

Malcolm Hill again shone brightest in the clutch for the Hotshots, who handed the Beermen their first loss in three games after the rematch of the last Commissioner’s Cup semifinals where the games always went down the wire.

“It always boils down to the last possession when you’re up against San Miguel,” Star coach Chito Victolero said. “So very important ito (panalo) sa future.”

“If we ever meet again, at least we know na may chance kami sa kanila,” he added.

The Hotshots also surely benefitted from the absence of Fajardo, who was out with a strained calf muscle that will also render him unavailable for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Cup.

“May factor rin yun (pagkawala niya), pero syempre alam mo naman na mag-step up ang iba nilang players,” Victolero said.

True enough, the rest of SMB’s local core gladly shouldered more of the load as they all scored in double figures to give ample support to Wendell Mckines, who anchored the attack with 27 points, 22 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block in almost 44 minutes.

But the 21-year-old Hill, the youngest import this conference, again showed maturity beyond his years as he knocked down that trey that gave the Hotshots a 100-95 lead, enough cushion to not only negate a Lassiter triple on the other end, but also hold on to the victory.

Hill finished with 20 points, nine boards, four assists, and one block, while Ian Sangalang added 18 points, 11 caroms, two blocks, and one assist for the Hotshots.


The scores: 

STAR 104 – Hill 20, Sangalang 18, Reavis 13, Brondial 10, Maliksi 8, Barroca 8, Lee 7, Dela Rosa 7, Melton 6, Ramos 5, Jalalon 2, Javier 0, Simon 0

SMB 98 – McKines 27, Lassiter 24, Santos 19, Cabagnot 12, Ross 10, Rosser 4, Espinas 2, Heruela 0, Tubid 0, Pessumal 0

Quarterscores: 24-21, 50-55, 76-77, 104-98

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