By JAY R. GOTERA
MANILA — Rookie Jio Jalalon nailed a baseline jumper at the buzzer to pull the Star Hotshots to a nail-biting 105-103 victory over the luckless NLEX Road Warriors in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Friday night.
Jalalon finished with 16 points – none as huge as his final shot — to lift the Hotshots to their third straight win. He also had six rebounds, with the last one off a Rabeh Al-Hussaini miss in the final 30.0 seconds that set up his own game-winning shot. The rookie also had four assists and four steals.
Allein Maliksi paced Star with 24 markers while import Tony Mitchell weathered early foul trouble to finish with 23 points, 15 of them in the final quarter. He also had 15 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
PJ Simon chipped in 13 markers.
The Hotshots erected a 21-point lead, 51-30, in the first half, but NLEX went on a scoring rampage in the third period to take the driver’s seat. The two teams fought on even terms in the fourth, with the game only decided in the last second with Jalalon’s heroics.
Import Wayne Chism exploded for 33 points for NLEX, 21 of them in the second half. But this was not enough to prevent the Road Warriors from crashing to their fourth straight defeat.
TNT Ka Tropa 92, Blackwater 89
Rookie Roger Pogoy led a huge fourth quarter comeback to tow the TNT KaTropa Texters to a 92-89 come-from-behind victory over the crippled yet surprisingly resilient Blackwater Elite.
Pogoy even eclipse the performance of new TNT import and highly touted former NBA veteran Donte Green as he led all scorers with a career-high 24 points, including a crucial putback late in the game, to lead the Texters to their second win in three games. Pogoy scored 11 of his points in the fourth quarter. The rookie shot a perfect 9-for-9 on his two-point field goals and 2-for-5 on three-pointers.
The 6’9” Greene made his PBA debut with 22 points although he had to take 28 shot attempts to reach his total. The former Sacramento King shot a mediocre 32.1 percent from the field and missed all but one of his five three-point attempts. He also had 13 rebounds, two steals, one steal, and one block in 36 minutes.
Jayson Castro tallied 13 points while Kelly Williams and Ranidel De Ocampo added 11 and 10 markers, respectively.
The Elite led for most parts of the game and were up, 73-63, heading into the fourth period. Blackwater was still ahead, 87-83, late in the game when TNT went on decisive 9-0 run capped by a Larry Fonacier three-pointer, giving TNT a 92-87 lead with 1:21 left After Blackwater import Greg Smith hit two free throws, the Elite had two chances to send the game into overtime, but missed both.
Smith paced the Elite with 22 points, 31 boards, three assists, and one steal in 43 minutes.
After losing Art dela Cruz to injury even before the conference started, Blackwater suffered another blow when star rookie Mac Belo suffered a knee injury.
However, the loss of the two key Blackwater players was dampened somehow by the arrival of two new gunners in Mark Cruz and KG Canaleta, who scored 7 and 6 points, respectively.
Kyle Pascual and Ronjay Buenafe added 12 points each for Blackwater, which fell to its fourth straight defeat.
Game Saturday: Barangay Ginebra Kings (0-0) vs. Phoenix (1-2).