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    Assured of a quarterfinal spot, Star looks to further boost playoff position as it battles lowly Blackwater

    Jun 23, 2015

    A STAR squad that’s peaking at the right time hopes to sustain its surge heading into the PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs as it tangles with Blackwater in the penultimate day of the eliminations on Tuesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum

    The Hotshots have won four of their last five games and are regaining the form that made them two-time defending champions.

    The winning streak has enabled the Hotshots, even though they are running sixth with an even 5-5 win-loss card in a tie with Meralco, to be virtually assured of a quarterfinal spot owing to a superior quotient over the playoff aspirants below them.

    Star is also in contention for a twice-to-beat advantage that comes with a Top Four berth, and will clinch it if Globalport, running fourth at 6-4, loses to pacesetting Alaska in the curtain-raiser of the doubleheader at 4:15 p.m.

    Whether they’re entertaining thoughts of making the Top Four or seeking to just keep their foot on the gas pedal, the Hotshots are gunning for no less than a victory against the cellar-dwelling Elite in the 7 p.m. encounter.

    “I guess if you’re gonna pick the right time to get into your stride, now is the time I guess,” Hotshots coach Tim Cone said. “We’re hoping that we’re peaking at the right time.”

    Star, however, should be cautious of an Elite side starving for a triumph and looking to end the season on positive note after losing all but one of their first 10 assignments in a rough start as an expansion team.

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    The Elite are especially motivated after a heartbreaking result on Friday when they held a double-digit lead over NLEX within the last three minutes of regulation, only to succumb and suffer defeat in overtime.

    “We’re looking at another seven-footer we have to contend with,” Cone said, referring to 6-foot-11 Blackwater import Marcus Cousin, who registered 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting, 14 boards, two assists, and one block in 48 minutes against the Road Warriors.

    But the Hotshots, behind own import Marqus Blakely, James Yap, and PJ Simon, handled themselves well against a tall team as they neutralized towering Energy reinforcement Liam McMorrow, who tallied just 23 points and 12 boards against five turnovers in their game.

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