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Barroca’s 26 helps Star snap funk in win over Mahindra

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With the threat of sinking to the bottom of the standings due to their slump, the Star Hotshots broke a four-game losing streak and, more importantly, improved their chances of finishing in a better position at the end of the elimination phase, as they defeated the Mahindra Enforcers, 104-96, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday.

Ball movement was the key to Star’s early blitz, as the team had five assists in the opening chapter and built an early 14-4 lead, seven minutes into the game. On the other hand, the Enforcers scuffed all five attempts from downtown in the first quarter.

For the opening part of the next quarter, the Hotshots maintained their double-digit advantage, with Mahindra unable to convert from Star’s miscues. However, the Enforcers managed to pile up points via the combination of Aldrech Ramos, Karl Dehesa, and Mark Yee, to keep them afloat in the period. Despite the Hotshots’ starters having a balanced attack, Mahindra kept pace to trail by only four at the break.

Both teams scored 27 points each in a back-and-forth third quarter, preventing either of them from building a lead. By the 8-minute mark, Mahindra had a momentary edge, but an 8-0 counter by Star put the advantage in their favor. Six missed free throws by the Enforcers during the third quarter stifled their comeback, as Star maintained their cushion heading into the fourth.

Karl Dehesa hit form in the final frame, as the guard knocked in all of his four triples in the pivotal period. The big baskets helped the Enforcers grabbed a 94-91 lead with 2:49 left in the match. However, the game just about went the way of Star down the stretch, as a couple of stops by the Hotshots led to two transition plays by Alex Mallari. Dehesa attempted two more from downtown, but was unable to connect in the dying moments. Meanwhile, Star milked the clock in the final seconds, while James Yap drained a buzzer-beating three to put the final nail in the coffin.

Despite being out-rebounded, 43-48, the Hotshots scored 20 from second chances. In addition, they ended up having more assists, 22-14. Barroca finished with 26 points, 12 of which came from three-point territory, together with five rebounds and three steals. Alex Mallari added 20 markers of his own on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. For the losing Mahindra squad, Ramos and Dehasa combined for 50 points while Pascual added 11.

Star (3-6) will face the Barako Bull Energy Cola a week from now, while Mahindra (2-7) will square up against the GlobalPort Batang Pier on Dec. 12. Both games will be played at the Big Dome.

The Scores:
Star (104) – Barroca 26, Mallari 20, Yap 15, Simon 11, Pascual 10 J.10, Taha 6, Pingris 5, Sangalang 4, Melton 3, Torres 2, Cruz 2.
Mahindra (96) – Ramos 26, Dehesa 24, Pascual 11, Guinto 8, Canaleta 8, Revilla 5, Digregorio 4, Hubalde 2, Webb 0, Alvarez 0, Pinto 0.
Quarterscores: 24-18, 46-42, 73-69, 104-94.

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