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Star escapes feisty rivals Ginebra in heated Clasico encounter

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A meeting between struggling Manila Clasico teams ended in a victory for the Star Hotshots, who managed to escape a late turnaround by their rivals Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and take home the 89-82 win, Sunday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Gin Kings opened the contest with a 5-0 lead, but all went south from there. A sparked Marquis Blakely initiated what would be a 19-2 run that saw Star take control halfway through the quarter. At the buzzer, the Hotshots led by a staggering 25-9 lead. The struggling Ginebra squad managed to only sink three of their 20 field goal attempts in the period.

It was the Hotshots who continued to dominate the scoring come the second period. A commotion, however, broke out on the court when Ginebra’s LA Tenorio and Head Coach Frankie Lim were dealt successive technical fouls for excessively complaining to the refs. The Hotshots led by as many as nineteen earlier in the quarter, but a late push helmed by Orlando Johnson trimmed the lead to single digits with less than 30 seconds to go in the half, 34-42. At the break, the score was unchanged. The Gin Kings shot a miserable 27.9% from the field, while Star shot a much better 46.9%.

An 8-0 rally capped off by a triple from their import, Johnson, early in the third paved the way for Ginebra to finally knot the game, 42-all, with just three minutes gone by in the second half. Star’s Joe Devance put an end to the bleeding by knocking down a trey on the other end and pull away with the lead once more. A slam from Japeth Aguilar and a layup from Johnson followed on the other end, gave Ginebra their first taste of the lead since the early stages of the ball game, 46-45. With their offense finally alive, the Barangay paced the contest for the next few minutes of play, leading by as much as six. The Star, however, were able to gather their bearings and steal the lead around the 1:17 mark of the quarter, thanks to a slam from Rafi Reavis. Korean import, Jiwan Kim responded to the brewing run with a triple to retake the lead for Ginebra. A late three-point play by Mark Barroca gave Star the lead just in time for the buzzer, 64-63.

A rested Blakely led the Hotshots in extending their lead in the fourth, who sank nine unanswered points to extend the lead to double digits, 73-63. At the halfway point, the lead had ballooned to fourteen, 78-64. Ginebra made their first successful field goal at the 5:07 mark, when their import Johnson successfully dropped in a layup while at the same time drawing a foul.

With two minutes left, the lead was still with Star, 83-74. Two free throws from Ginebra’s Kim cut the Gin King’s deficit to seven, 83-76. He followed it up later with a breakaway three that trimmed the margin to a manageable four points, all with just little over a minute left. Alex Mallari put an end to the Star coldspell by sinking a layup to extend the lead to six, 85-79, with 56 ticks left on the clock.

A turnover by Kim, the Ginebra hero from just a few plays back, at the 52 second mark, threw away what was supposed to be a crucial possession for the Gin Kings. A split charity from Blakely widened the gap by a point, but his Ginebra counterpart, Johnson, replied by sinking another triple to bring his squad within four, 82-86, with 16 seconds left.

It was the free throws who came their way in the final seconds of play that gave Star the means to pile on the lead and ice the win.

Joe Devance led the Hotshots with 26 points and 8 rebounds. Orland Johnson, meanwhile, led all Ginebra scorers with 35 markers of his own. With the win, Star improves to 3-4, while Ginebra slides to 3-5.

The Scores:

STAR (89) – Devance 26, Blakely 19, Barroca 12, Mallari 9, Yap 7, Simon 7, Taha 5, Reavis 2, Pingris 2, Alvarez

BGSM (82) – Johnson 35, Aguilar 18, Mercado 9, Kim 8, Caguoia 4, Slaughter 4

Quarters: 25-9, 42-34, 64-63, 89-82

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