James Yap drained two triples under the final minute en route to scoring a conference-high 23 points as the Star Hotshots ended a four-game losing slide after edging the Kia Carnival, 89-80 Saturday at the Angeles University Foundation Arena in Pampanga.
Yap, who entered the game averaging only 9.4 PPG, fired 16 points in the first half alone as the Hotshots took a commanding 51-34 lead at the half.
But the resilient Carnival side kept throwing jabs to trim the double-digit deficit halfway through the payoff period. A triple by LA Revilla capped a 24-9 blast from the squad that brought the Star lead down to 82-77 with under two minutes left.
Revilla then swiped the ball off Marqus Blakely’s hands to gain possession for the Carnival, but attempted a hurried shot from downtown that sailed out of bounds.
In the ensuing play, Yap buried a huge triple under the last 56.6 seconds to push the advantage up to 85-77, before following it with another in the final 23 seconds to secure the win for the Hotshots.
Yap shot a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point area while Blakely added 23 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in the victory.
Star improved to 2-4 in the team standings, gaining much needed momentum heading into the homestretch of the PBA Governors’ Cup elimination round with hopes to defend the final PBA crown of the franchise.
Kia on the other end, which was led by Jet Chang’s 17 points, dropped to 3-2 to fall to the middle of the team standings.
Star (89) – Yap 23, Blakely 23, Mallari 9, Devance 6, Simon 6, Pingris 6, Pennisi 5, Taha 5, Barroca 4, Reavis 2.
Kia (80) – Chang 17, N’Diaye 13, Revilla 12, Dehesa 11, Thiele 10, Bagatsing 6, Alvarez 4, Pascual 4, Nuyles 3, Deutchman 0, Ighalo 0, Buensuceso 0, Parreno 0.
Quarters: 25-16, 51-34, 69-58, 89-80.
*Photo by Nuki Sabio