Sports Skinning Left, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Sportshub ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Hotshots rout Picanto, forge virtual playoff vs Road Warriors

Marc Pingris of Star in action against Kia defenders. | PBA Images

Games Saturday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)

3 p.m. – Blackwater vs Rain or Shine

5:15 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Ginebra

MANILA, Philippines –  The Star Hotshots primed themselves up for a virtual playoff match with the NLEX Road Warriors on Sunday by fashioning out a lopsided 128-81 rout of the Kia Picanto that preserved their Top Four hopes in the PBA Governors Cup eliminations at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Friday night.

The Hotshots left nothing to chance, storming to a 65-36 halftime and refusing to let up on the hapless Picanto team that they didn’t spare an embarrassing winless showing in the season-ending tourney. 

Coach Chris Gavina and the Picanto went down as the first team to end up without a single win in a tourney since Blackwater suffered the same humiliation in the 2014-15 Philippine Cup.

Sportshub ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

As the worst performing team in the 2016-17 PBA season, Kia earned the rights for the first pick in the coming PBA Rookie Draft. Gavina said he’s leaning towards drafting Fil-German center/forward Christian Standhardinger.

With 12 points, Marc Pingris joined the league’s elite 5,000-point club and was among those who shone in an explosive Star game leading to one of the most lopsided victories in the season that’s about to end.

Star coach Chito Victolero is now hoping they can sustain the momentum in their critical matchup with NLEX at the close of the one-round-robin elims tomorrow over at the Big Dome.

“We need to win to have a chance at the Top Four; same with NLEX. So it’s a big game Sunday,” said Victolero.

With their 49-point blowout of Kia, the Hotshots caught up with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at sixth place at 6-4, right behind joint third placers the Road Warriors, the San Miguel Beermen and the TNT KaTropa Texters at 7-3.

The race for the Top Four heats up Saturday as Ginebra, TNT and Rain or Shine press their bids in a crucial double-header at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The E-Painters go for a 7-4 closing mark in their 3 p.m. showdown with the Blackwater Elite while the Kings and the Texters face off in a virtual playoff duel at 5:15 p.m.

The Kings chase a win that automatically hands them a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals while the Texters go for a win that will forge a jam between these two teams at 8-3.

“It’s an exciting weekend,” said Victolero.

The Hotshots kept the excitement in their bid with an overwhelming game against the Picanto led by the double-digit outputs of Kris Acox (19 points and 15 rebounds), Jio Jalalon (15 points), PJ Simon (13), Pingris (12), Ian Sangalang (12) and Justin Melton (10).

Pingris scored on a breakaway jam in the closing seconds to become the 85th PBA player to hit the 5,000-point plateau – the 81st among locals.

The energetic forward nailed the personal milestone in his 13th year in the league since being drafted at No. 3 overall in the talent-laden 2004 draft behind Rich Alvarez and James Yap.

Pingris, coming from an injury, is seemingly back in shape heading to the playoffs.

“Our biggest concern now is the chemistry between the locals and our import Kris Acox,” said Victolero.

Sportshub ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us:
Sports Skinning Right, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1