STAR regained its old, fiery form as it dismantled Kia, 128-81, to stay alive for a Top Four finish in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Hotshots banked on a hot start and refused to let up until the final buzzer, pouncing on a demoralized, eliminated Picanto to coast to their sixth victory in 10 games.
Kristofer Acox sparked the blowout as he finished with 19 points, 15 boards, three assists, two steals, and two blocks, while Jio Jalalon chipped in 17 points, seven assists, three boards, and three steals to lead the Hotshots’ balanced local effort that saw seven players scoring in double digits.
Marc Pingris added 12 points, nine boards, and five assists, capping his all-around play with a dunk in the waning seconds that enabled him to become the 85th member of the league’s 5,000-point club.
The Picanto, on the other hand, suffered their worst loss in franchise history as they finished their disappointing campaign winless in 11 outings.
“It’s all about respecting our opponents and the game,” Star coach Chito Victolero said. “We needed this game badly because we still have a slim chance for the Top Four.”
In his second game as import, Acox scored eight of his output in the first quarter that ended with the Hotshots on top, 32-24, as he sustained his solid play in the next two quarters before having the luxury to sit the entire final frame.
Jalalon, Aldrech Ramos, and PJ Simon conspired in the second canto where they outscored the Picanto 33-12, to break the game wide open.
The Hotshots were on cruise control in the fourth quarter, so much so that it allowed Pingris to chase his scoring milestone as he scored eight of his 12 points in the period where they led by as many as 49 points.
Geron Johnson led the Picanto with 27 points, nine boards, five assists, three steals, and one block that went for naught.
STAR 128 – Acox 19, Jalalon 15, Simon 13, Sangalang 12, Barroca 10, Reavis 7, Ramos 7, Dela Rosa 5, Mendoza 5, Lee 4, Abundo 3, Gamalinda 2, Pascual 2, Brondial 2
KIA 81 – Johnson 27, Elorde 15, Corpuz 11, Camson 10, Celda 9, Yee 4, Deutchman 3, Nimes 2, Paniamogan 0, Ballesteros 0, Jaime 0
Quarterscores: 32-24, 65-36, 91-60, 128-81