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Star spoils Tim Cone’s Ginebra debut



In this season’s first Manila Clasico, the Star Hotshots strolled in a seemingly ugly blowout win. Ginebra’s Never Say Die spirit was able to cut the lead in the fourth, but they ultimately fell short.

Losing their season opener last Wednesday, the Star Hotshots bounced back with an 86-78 escape over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in a jam-packed Smart Araneta Coliseum to close out PBA Sunday.

Balanced scoring breezed the Hotshots to a scorching start to the first period as every man from their ten inserted players already barged into the scoring column at the end of the first 12 minutes. They made it rain with 5 early threes, including two open ones from Norbert Torres and a buzzer-beating one from Jake Pascual to silence half of the Big Dome early, 37-13.

Still sizzling from the field, the Hotshots built its largest lead of the game at 44-13, with three free throws by Pascual to cap a 7-0 zip to start the second quarter. On the other end, Ginebra’s 13 turnovers didn’t help their cause to erect their comeback, despite their Center, Greg Slaughter, doing most of the damage. The former Ateneo center already tallied 20, scoring more than half of his team’s total at the break.

As adjustments were made, defense and pace slowly favored the Kings in the second half. However, they missed all of their three point attempts of the quarter, and only outscored Star by a point 14-13. Japeth Aguilar also started to chip points to aid his frontcourt tandem, but a triple by PJ Simon, with second to go in the third, was huge for Star, as they restored a 21-point cushion.

The anxious Ginebra crowd got signs of a comeback as the Kings made a couple of huge rallies down the stretch. A 16-7 run in the middle of the period made the lead down to ten markers with huge credit from Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Greg Slaughter. On the other end, Mark Barroca and Alex Mallari drained two gut-wrenching and rally-stopping triples to keep the Kings at bay.

In the final minute wherein Star was still up by 10, good defense by the Hotshots limited attempts by the Kings, as Thompson was forced for a tough triple that came up blank. Despite turnovers committed by Star late, Ginebra couldn’t capitalize with time being against them.

Ginebra out-rebounded and had more assists than Star, 53-46 and 22-19, respectively. However, the Hotshots capitalized more on their opponents turnovers as they outscored the Kings by 14 in terms of scoring from turnovers.

Yap topped the Hotshots with 19 markers on 7-of-17 shooting from the field. Barroca and Simon scored 12 points each.

The twin towers of Slaughter and Aguilar scored 28 and 26 points, respectively, while grabbing 16 rebounds apiece. However, they had limited help from the other rosters, but one notable performance was showcased by rookie Scottie Thompson, as the former Perpetual Altas guard filled in the stat sheet with his 5 pts, 3 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals most of which came in the final period.

Star(1-1) will have GlobalPort(0-1) as its next opponent, 7:00pm on Nov 31 at the Mall of Asia Arena, while Barangay Ginebra(0-1) looks to bounce back against Barako Bull(0-0) the next day and in the same venue at 5:15 in the afternoon.

The Scores:
Star (86) – Yap 19, Simon 12, Barroca 12, Torres 8, Melton 7, Mallari 6, Pascual 6, Pingris 6, Sangalang 5, Maliksi 3, Reavis 2, Taha 0, Pascual 0
Ginebra (78) – Slaughter 28, Aguilar 26, Ellis 5, Thompson 5, Caguioa 4, Mariano 2, Brondial 2, Devance 1, Tenorio 0, Mercado 0, Helterbrand 0
Quarterscores: 37-13, 58-38, 71-52, 86-78