The Purefoods Star Hotshots continued their fiery start in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup, bagging their fourth straight win after completing an 87-62 dismantling of the struggling NLEX Road Warriors, Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Star Hotshots took control of the ballgame in the early first quarter, finding their comfort zone from long range to take the steady lead. Nipping at their heels were the Road Warriors, who stayed within striking range for most of the quarter, trailing by a mere possession. Purefoods proved to be the quicker draw in the quarter-long shootout, and at the end of the first twelve minutes, they led by a thread, 22-20.
Purefoods returned to the floor charged enough to extend the lead to 29-21, following a 7-1 rally to start the quarter. A trey from James Yap with less than six minutes left on the clock pushed the lead to double digits for the first time in the game, 34-24. What followed was four minutes of play that saw neither team find success at the rim. Marc Pingris put an end to the drought with split free throw charities to extend the lead to eleven at the 1:28 mark. Amid flaring tempers, the Star Hotshots held on to the double-digit lead at halftime, 36-26.
A 6-0 spurt helmed by import Daniel Orton and Joe Devance extended the lead to 42-26 at the start of the third period. Scoring from wherever they pleased, the Star Hotshots held on to the double-digit lead for the remainder of the quarter. A three-point conversion by import Al Thornton and a jumper from Rudy Lingganay put the Road Warriors back within single digits, 41-50, later in the quarter. But what could have been the run that put NLEX back in the game was immediately dismantled by Allein Maliksi and Mark Barroca, who sank a couple of threes to kick off a 14-2 rally that extended the lead by as many as 22. At the end of the third, Purefoods led by a commanding 20 points, 65-45.
Even the duo of Asi Taulava and Thornton proved ineffective early in the fourth quarter, with Purefoods import Orton dominating on both ends of the floor. The lead ballooned to 30, 84-54, with less than four minutes on the clock, following a jumper by Justin Melton. The last minutes saw Purefoods struggle to return to scoring with ease, but with time on their side, it was the Star Hotshots who walked away with the win.
Orton took home Player of the Game honors with 16 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. The Star Hotshots improve to 4-0, while NLEX remains winless at 0-3. Purefoods shares the top spot with the Meralco Bolts, just a game ahead of the likewise still-unbeaten Barako Bull.