STAR showed the sense of urgency its coach wanted to see as the Hotshots rolled past NLEX, 99-75, for its first win in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Starting to fulfill the potential of their retooled roster, the Hotshots banked on a strong second half to coast to the victory and arrest a two-game slide.
Paul Lee impressed against former coach Yeng Guiao, putting up 20 points, seven assists, and five boards, while Jio Jalalon added 17 points, five boards, and five steals off the bench to lead the Hotshots, who forced the Road Warriors to 31 turnovers.
As a result, NLEX absorbed a second straight setback after starting the season with a win.
“It’s about our defense and yung desire at willingness nila na manalo kasi we needed to step up and have that sense of urgency,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said.
Jalalon typified the Hotshots’ defense with his five steals, while also delivering on offense by scoring 11 his output in the third where they started to pull away after a tight first half.
Then Lee took over in the payoff period where he fired 13 of his scoring total as the Hotshots maintained their sizeable cushion that went as high as 24 points.
The game went so one-sided that Guiao appeared to lose his appetite in steering his disjointed wards to make a comeback.
The Road Warriors tried to go down fighting, pulling to within eight points, 79-71, before the Hotshots finished the game on a 20-4 run.
Carlo Lastimosa and Jonas Villanueva’s 11 points apiece were good enough to be team-high honors for NLEX in a losing effort.
STAR 99 - Lee 20, Jalalon 17, Maliksi 15, Sangalang 13, Ramos 13, Barroca 10, Pingris 6, Simon 2, Melton 2, Abundo 1, Javier 0, De Leon 0
NLEX 75 – Lastimosa 11, J. Villanueva 11, Alas 10, Lanete 10, Anthony 7, Soyud 7, Khobuntin 5, Guinto 4, Baracael 4, Taulava 2, Monfort 2, Camson 2, Gotladera 0
Quarterscores: 20-23, 42-39, 71-57, 99-75