Star downs Mahindra, advances to the playoffs

MANILA, PHILIPPINES- Star Hotshots found also-ran Mahindra Enforcers unsually tough Wednesday night before pulling out a 86-73 victory that kept the team's quarterfinal bid alive in the first round of the Oppo-PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs at Smart Araneta Coliseum

The Hotshots got a dozen lead after the first quarter and sustained it until the buzzer sounds.

Their terrific rookie Mark Cruz poured an career high 18 points with 3 treys in 20 minutes of action. The Hotshots' consistent reinforcement Ratliffe did not failed his coach by putting up a double-double 24 points and 16 rebounds despite a heated matchup with Raymond Aguilar of Mahindra.

With this victory, the Star Hotshots sealed a playoff spot at number 8 battling either Meralco or San Miguel depending on the remaining elimination games. The berth carries with it a twice-to-win handicap. "Sinunod lang namin yung payo ni Coach Jason at naging confident din ako sa mga tira ko" Cruz said.

Webb, tapped before the season to replace Tim Cone, already had a taste of the quarterfinals in the season-opening Philippine Cup, but got shown the door by Barangay Ginebra in just one game.

"Binigay na namin yung best namin" that's what Mahindra interim head coach Victolero said when asked about his post-game thoughts. Mahindra will miss the playoffs for the sixth time since joining the league. This is the second-time they almost made it.

The scores:
STAR 86 - Ratliffe 24, Cruz 18, Sangalang 12, Maliksi 11, Simon 8, Barroca 5, Melton 4, Pingris 3, Reavis 1, Pascual 0,.
MAHINDRA 73 - Dehesa 13, Gilchrist 13, Ramos 13, Canaleta 8, Yee 7, Revilla 5, Elorde 4, Guinto 4, Aguular 2, Bagatsing 2, Ballesteros 2, De Vera 0, Digregorio 0, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 32-21; 43-36; 53-51; 86-73.