The Purefoods Star Hotshots rose to the top of the Commissioner’s Cup standings after dealing the Barako Bull Energy their fourth straight loss, 103-96, Tuesday evening at the Araneta Coliseum.
The two squads traded baskets and leads for most of the first quarter, with import Solomon Alabi doing the damage for Barako Bull, and the locals leading the charge for Purefoods. With around three minutes left in the period, Chico Lanete exploded for five-straight points to give Barako Bull a five-point advantage, 19-14. Baskets from Alabi and R.R Garcia protected the Energy’s lead to end the quarter, 24-19.
The Energy continued to outgun the Star Hotshots early in the second period, eventually building a 28-21 edge just three minutes into the period. Alex Mallari and Justin Melton responded to the brewing Barako Bull rally by kicking off a 6-0 rally that brought the Hotshots to within one, 27-28. Barako Bull’s Garcia ended the Purefoods run with a floater to extend the lead to three, but a three-point play by Melton on the other end knotted the game at 30-all. A trey from Melton later gave Purefoods back the lead, 33-30, with less than six minutes left in quarter. The Star Hotshots led by as many as eight in the following minutes of play. They led 47-40 with just around a minute left in the quarter, but a quick 7-0 burst from the Energy capped off by a trey from JC Intal, just before the buzzer, tied the score at 47-all at halftime.
Another shootout between the two squads broke out as the second half opened, with the lead exchanging hands play after play. It was import Denzel Bowles who took charge of the scoring reins around the halfway point, helping the Star Hotshots exploit a brief lull in the Energy’s offense to build a 72-62 lead late in the quarter. Scrambling to break out of the sudden deficit, the Energy looked to their gunners for their much needed spark, but were unable to start any sudden runs. At the end of the quarter, Purefoods led 81-72.
Purefoods showed no sign of easing up on their barrage, nailing four straight points, care of Allein Maliksi and Joe Devance, to extend the lead to 85-72 in the opening minutes of the fourth. With the Hotshots sinking buckets from everywhere around the arc, the lead moved up 18 points in the following minutes of play. Around past the halfway mark, Barako Bull’s Alabi and JC Intal put together a brief spurt to come within nine, 85-94. The fire was doused by Purefoods’ Devance, who sank an easy trey just as the last two minutes clocked in.
Free throws from Solomons Alabi and Mercado gave the Energy a lease on life in the following minute, coming within single digits again, 89-97, with a minute and a half to play. A triple from Intal later put Barako Bull within five just less than a minute to play, 92-97. Purefoods’ Marc Pingris hammered the first nail in the coffin with a narrow jumper to extend the lead to seven. The Hotshots needed only to put up a couple more defensive stops to slow down the unsullied Barako Bull. With less than ten seconds to play, Pingris put the icing on the cake with an emphatic slam.
Denzel Bowles was once again named Best Player of the Game with 34 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. Solomon Alabi led Barako Bull with 29 points and 19 rebounds. As of press time, Purefoods are at solo first with a 7-3 record. Barako Bull meanwhile slide to 4-6 after suffering from their fourth straight loss.
PUREFOODS: Bowles 34, Devance 15, Maliksi 13, Pingis 8, Melton 8, Pennisi 7, Barroca 6, Yap 6, Simon 3, Mallari 2, Taha 1
BARAKO BULL: Alabi 29, Lanete 21, Intal 15, Mercado 14, Garcia 5, Hubalde 4, Pascual 4, Marcelo 4
Quarters: 19-24, 47-47, 81-72, 103-96