There was nothing the Meralco Bolts could do but hang their heads in frustration as Allein Maliksi and the Star Hotshots poured dirt on them with one basket after another, burying them in a 47-point defeat, dashing Meralco’s hopes of exiting the Philippine Cup with dignity.
It wasn’t all gloom and doom for Meralco, as the Jared Dillinger, Cliff Hodge and Jonathan Uyloan combination kept the game close for the first part of the 1st quarter. Meralco was within 1 point, looking to overtake Star after the timeout, but then the Fire nation Allein Maliksi attacked. Maliksi sparked an 11- 4 run for Star which buried Meralco in double-digit before the end of the 1st quarter.
Meralco thought it would get its chance to bounce back in the 2nd quarter, but Star’s bench had other plans. Young guns Ian Sangalang and Jio Jalalon led a furious charge, breaking the game wide open early in the 2nd quarter. Combined, they scored 8 of Star’s first 14 points to start the quarter, bringing the lead to a commanding 18 points with more than 8 minutes left in the 1st half.
While Star was waxing hot, Meralco was flat-lining, scoring only 4 points in 8 minutes of play in the 2nd quarter. With only Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Justin Chua providing points early in the quarter, the Bolts chucked up miss after miss, only breaking the seal with a Reynel Hugnatan 3 pointer with less than 5 minutes left in the quarter. By this time, Star had already built a 27 point lead, stretched further by Paul Lee and Maliksi’s outside shooting.
By the 3rd quarter, the game was already over. Try as they might, Meralco continued to shoot blanks and were again out-scored 27-12. A fire was lit under the Meralco players as they tried to salvage what pride they had left, but Star simply matched them basket for basket, keeping their monstrous lead intact, ending the game 120-73.
The Star Hotshots are now gunning for 2nd spot, needing a win over the Mahindra Floodbusters while Meralco will have to pick up the pieces and prepare for the coming Commissioner’s Cup.