STAR continued to gain cohesion with its impressive import while Mahindra started on the wrong foot with a new one as the unbeaten Hotshots dealt the Floodbuster a 97-83 defeat in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday.
Tony Mitchell tallied 19 points, 14 boards, and six blocks, highlighting his performance with a windmill dunk early in the third quarter to lead a balanced attack in the Hotshots' fourth win in as many games that enabled them to claim a piece of the lead with Alaska.
The Hotshots also spoiled the debut of new Floodbuster import Keith Wright, who registered 17 points on 8-of-22 shooting along with 14 boards as he saw his team absorb a fourth setback in five games.
“We learned a lot from our last game,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said, referring to their two-point win over NLEX in a game where they gave up an early lead before needing Jio Jalalon’s last-second shot to pull off the escape. “Now we played forty-eight minutes of basketball.”
“Wala kaming idea dun sa import nila, pero siguro may jetlag pa, so medyo swerte kami,” he added. “It was a total team effort.”
Six players scored nine points or more for the Hotshots, with Jalalon emerging as the top local scorer with 14 points on top of three assists, three steals, and just one turnover in almost 30 minutes of play in a fitting follow-up to his heroics against NLEX.
Aldrech Ramos added 12 points, half from the three-point area, including one that came in the waning seconds of the third quarter that gave the Hotshots a commanding 17-point lead and sparked the one-sided final frame.
Jajalon’s backcourt mates Mark Barroca Paul Lee, and PJ Simon, chipped in 11 points apiece, while Maliksi added nine markers, including a three-pointer that gave them their biggest lead at 21 halfway through the third period.
Alex Mallari bounced back after being criticized for his lack of maturity last game as he registered a game-high 24 points on 11-of-18 shooting, six boards, two steals, and one assist that went for naught.
STAR 97 – Mitchell 19, Jalalon 14, Ramos 12, Simon 11, Lee 11, Barroca 11, Maliksi 9, Sangalang 4, Reavis 4, Brondial 2, Dela Rosa 0, Mendoza 0
MAHINDRA 83 – Mallari 24, Wright 17, Paniamogan 9, Celda 9, Ballesteros 7, David 5, Revilla 4, Elorde 3, Galanza 3, Guevarra 2, Caperal 0, Deutchman 0, Yee 0, Salva 0
Quarterscores: 22-18, 43-30, 70-53, 97-83