Led by the sweet-shooting of guards Mark Barroca and Allein Maliksi, the Purefoods Star Hotshots erased a 16-point halftime lead by Global Port Batang Pier to bag their first win in the Philippine Cup, 81-75, Friday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Led by no. 1 draft pick Stanley Pringle, the youthful Batang Pier took control of the first quarter, pacing the game. Meanwhile, Purefoods, playing without two-time MVP James Yap who was sidelined due to a hamstring injury, struggled to find a way to fire back at the Batang Pier’s assault. Pringle, the rookie out of Penn State bagged 12 points in the first quarter alone to lead Global Port to a 26-15 edge at the end of the first period.
Both teams shifted gears in the second quarter, focusing on defense and holding each other to only three points in the first half of the period. However, the re-entry of the explosive backcourt duo of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle would once more rally Global Port to go all out on the offensive. The late game salvo gave Batang Pier the means to extend the lead to 40-24 just in time for the halftime break.
Purefoods’ fortunes finally turned in the third quarter. After finally finding a way to contain the explosive Pringle midway through the quarter, the Star Hotshots embarked on a 23-7 run that trimmed Batang Pier’s 16-point lead to single digits late in the quarter. Leading the charge were the sweet-shooting Mark Barocca and Allein Maliksi. A step-back triple from Maliksi with 3.2 left on the clock pushed the Hotshots to within striking distance, 51-53, just before the buzzer sounded.
The two squads welcomed the final period trading baskets, and two free throw baskets from Yousef Taha gave Purefoods a taste of the lead, 59-58, with seven minutes left on the clock. Alex Cabagnot exploded for 12 points in the next three minutes to hold the fort for Global Port, but Purefoods’ Barroca rised to the occasion once more to force a 70-all deadlock entering the final two minutes.
A basket from Maliksi and a three-point play from defensive powerhouse Marc Pingris gave the Hotshots the 75-70 edge within the following minute. A trifecta from the star rookie Pringle trimmed the lead to two points, 75-73 with less than a minute remaining. However, the eagle-eyed Barroca, after drawing the foul with less than twenty-four seconds left on the clock, gavePurefoods some breathing room after sinking both free throw charities. Despite another basket from Pringle, the Hotshots managed to hold on for the win, their first in their conference.
Barroca finished with a game-high 25 points, sinking 11/13 free throws. Both Global Port and Purefoods are currently at 1-2.