DENZEL Bowles and Allein Maliksi led a second-half breakaway that keyed Purefoods Star to a 103-96 win over Barako Bull in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Hero of Purefoods' 118-117 triple-overtime win over Talk ‘N Text on Saturday, Bowles picked up from where he left off as he dropped 21 of his game-high 34 points in a dazzling display of shooting in the third period.
Maliksi took over in the last quarter, scoring seven of his 13 points to give the Hotshots their biggest lead at 94-78, which proved a big enough buffer to hold off the Energy’s endgame rally.
The Hotshots have now three games in a row to hike their record to 7-3, assuring them of a spot in the top six and enhancing their hopes for a top two finish, which entails a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs.
“That’s lucky there in the end. I wished we had good defense in the second half, but we got sloppy,” said Purefoods Star coach Tim Cone.
“But I thought our team showed real grit the whole night even though the game didn’t start the way we wanted it to be,” he added.
On the other hand, Barako Bull continued its downward spiral after losing for the fifth time in its last six games.
The Energy, who started the conference by winning their first three games, dropped to 4-6 - one spot out of the magic eight that will make the playoffs.
Joe Devance completed his first double-double this conference for Purefoods Star with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while former Barako Bull big man Mick Pennisi helped contain Energy import Solomon Alabi in the fourth quarter.
Alabi still led the Energy with 29 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks.
Chico Lanete added 21, JC Intal had 15 while Sol Mercado added 14 points and six blocks.