MANILA, Philippines – After watching their twice-to-beat hopes slip away when Globalport outlasted Alaska in the first game, the Star Hotshots overcame their disappointment and avoided an upset against the Blackwater Elite with an 87-82 win in the 2015 PBA Governors' Cup on Tuesday, June 23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots settled for a 5th seed in the quarterfinals and will face the twice-to-beat Globalport on Friday, June 26.
"I think after Globalport won we just lost our energy a little bit and started the game really poorly," admitted head coach Tim Cone, whose team allowed the lowly Elite an 11-point lead just before halftime.
An Alaska victory would have shoved Star at 4th seed and the twice-to-beat.
"If you asked me a month ago I would be really happy with 5th seed," Cone added, recalling the Star's dismal 1-4 conference start. "Just that tonight we had an opportunity to get the 4th and that didn't happen so we're disappointed."
Marqus Blakely led all scorers with 22 points to add to an all-around effort of 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 7 steals, 4 blocks and just two turnovers.
Five other Hotshots finished in double figures including Alex Mallari and Joe Devance who both had 12 points each. Mallari added 6 assists while Devance had 7 rebounds.
PJ Simon and Mark Barroca had 11 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench and James Yap contributed 10 as the Star ended the elimination round on a 3-game win streak and a 6-5 record.
Import Marcus Cousin led Blackwater with 21 points and 13 rebounds while Bambam Gamalinda added 12 markers.
The Elite overturned an 81-69 early fourth quarter deficit from the Hotshots and came to within 4 with under 3 minutes to play. But the inexperienced expansion franchise in its first PBA season was unable to execute in the clutch and kept missing good looks.
Blackwater wrapped up the Governors' Cup with a 1-10 record and the entire season at 4-29.
STAR 87 - Blakely 22, Mallari 12, Devance 12, Simon 11, Barroca 10, Yap 10, Pingris 4, Taha 3, Melton 3, Reavis 0, Maliksi 0, Pennisi 0.
BLACKWATER 82 - Cousin 21, Gamalinda 12, Cervantes 9, Acuna 8, Celiz 7, Bulawan 5, Laure 5, Canada 5, Reyes 4, Erram 2, Heruela 2, Golla 2, Ballesteros 0.
Quarter scores: 19-21, 39-46, 67-64, 87-82.