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    PJ Simon breaks out of slump as Star seals quarterfinal berth with win over Blackwater

    Dec 18, 2015
    PJ Simon breaks through with a game-high 26 points for Star. Dante Peralta

    STAR displayed the sense of urgency that had been missing as of late as it dispatched Blackwater, 102-89, on Friday night to book a quarterfinal ticket in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

    Coming off a blowout loss to Barako Bull that put perennial playoff contenders’ bid in jeopardy, the Hotshots came out with a solid start and sustained their intensity throughout to roll to just their fourth victory in 11 games.

    PJ Simon finally broke out of slump, firing a season-high 26 points to lead five Hotshots in double figures as they dealt the Elite their eighth loss in 10 games, leaving them in a must-win situation against Mahindra on Sunday.

    “I’m very lucky to have players blessed with God’s-given talent, like PJ who can create,” Hotshots coach Jason Webb said.

    Allein Maliksi, proving his issue over playing time is clearly behind him, also put on a brief scoring outburst as he finished with a season-high 13 points as he made all his four shots in just seven minutes of action.

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    But most of the spotlight was on Simon, the veteran gunner who had been firing blanks recently, the latest a scoreless outing in their loss to the Energy.

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    Simon immediately showed he has regained his touch, firing 11 of his total output in the first quarter.

    Unlike Simon, Carlo Lastimosa relatively cooled down from his career-high 38-point performance as he wound up with 18 points, still good for team-high honors for the Elite.

    The scores:

    Star 102 - Simon 26, Maliksi 13, Pingris 12, Barroca 11, Mallari 11, Taha 8, Yap 6, Melton 4, Sangalang 4, Reavis 3, Cruz 2, Torres 2.

    Blackwater 89 - Lastimosa 18, Dela Cruz 17, Gamalinda 11, Cortez 10, Erram 10, Cervantes 9, Golla 8, Reyes 6, Ballesteros 0, Canada 0, Melano 0.

    Quarterscores: 25-25, 52-42, 78-72, 102-89

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    PJ Simon breaks through with a game-high 26 points for Star. Dante Peralta
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