Star logs easy victory to go up 4-0
THERE was something in the way Star manhandled Mahindra on Wednesday night that surely made the Hotshots even more fearsome as far as the rest of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup field is concerned.
Tony Mitchell took over in the second period and led a swashbuckling breakaway by the Hotshots before taking it easy the rest of the way as Star drubbed the Floodbuster, 97-83, to take a piece of the elimination round lead at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Supposedly the defensive anchor of the team that is teeming with so much offensive local talent, Mitchell showed – for the second straight game – that he has the tools to be the go-to offensive man which surely did not escape the attention of scouts of the Hotshots’ future foes trying to figure out a way to bring them down for the first time.
And that facet of Mitchell’s game certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed as far as coach Chito Victolero is concerned. In fact, Victolero acknowledged that he has an offensive weapon that he can unleash anytime he sees fit.
“He has that (take-over capabilities),” Victolero said of his import, who finished with 19 points that went with 14 rebounds and six swats. “We’ve talked about that and he knows that he can do it anytime, like he did the last game.”
Victolero was talking of the narrow win over NLEX last week, where Mitchell took over the fourth period and scored 15 points that allowed the Hotshots to dodge the upset ax.
Against the Floodbuster, Mitchell fired nine of the team’s 21 second quarter points as Star peeled away from a 22-18 first quarter count to go on and lead by as large as 21 and make it a cruise from there.
But Victolero still wants Mitchell, in the meantime, to focus on defense, knowing that he has a battery of scorers at his disposal.
“His strength is his defense,” Victolero said. “And that’s our system. It all starts with our defense. But we know that he can run the floor on offense and play a solid post-up game.”
Rookie Jio Jalalon was one of five locals which tossed in 11 or better and the Hotshots won pulling away even with their stars’ minutes managed to a great extent.
Alex Mallari paced the Floodbuster with 24 points, while Keith Wright, signed to give the Floodbuster an inside presence, finished with 17 point, 14 boards and five feeds. /Musong Castillo of the Inquirer
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