The San Miguel Beermen (2-3) led for most of the ball game, even erecting a 17-point lead at the half. However, the STAR Hotshots (1-3) slowly found their groove in the 2nd half and fought toe-to-toe with SMB. It all boiled down to the last few minutes of the game. Unfortunately for the Hotshots, their arrival into the game came just a little bit too late; two quarters late to be exact. They fell short once again, losing their 3rd game in a row, 89-100.
Except for the first two quarters (which was really ugly), this loss didn’t feel like that of their previous two games. Against GlobalPort and Meralco, STAR wasn’t their usual self and just went through the motions. In short, the effort was hardly felt. But someway somehow, Coach Tim Cone managed to bring back the Hotshots’ game and energy in this game (probably the week-long break helped in this one). It was just unfortunate that they weren’t able to execute their game plan right away and needed the whole first half to break it in. They only scored 26 points in the first half but exploded for 35 points in the 3rd quarter! (I wonder what Coach Tim whispered to them in their dugout). Maybe the next step for Coach Tim and the rest of the coaching staff is to find a way for them to be able to execute right from the get go and be able to start games strong.
It was a very physical and emotional match marred by questionable calls, technical fouls, and extra-curricular activities on both sides of the floor. But nonetheless, it was a great game for both teams. The Beermen got their third win in a row and the Hotshots, despite suffering yet another setback, definitely learned a lot of lessons in this one.
Game Breakdown: By the Numbers
|TEAM||3FG (%)||FT (%)||REBS (OREB)||ASTS||STLS||BLKS||TOs|
|7/25 (28%)||18/25 (72%)||39 (15)||12||4||3||13|
|9/28 (32.1%)||13/21 (61.9%)||57 (24)||15||6||8||17|
In my pre-game primer for this game, I mentioned that the Hotshots should be able to defend the inside-outside attack of the Beermen. They had some (but not that significant) success in terms of defending the shooters of SMB, limiting them to only 32.1 percent from three-point range (SMB averages about 35.9 percent from deep in 4 games). I say this because they were able to limit Marcio Lassiter (probably the best three-point shooter from SMB) to only 1 make in 7 tries. But still, other gunners like Alex Cabagnot (4 threes) and Arwind Santos (2 threes) were able to make up for this.
Inside, I thought the Hotshots were able to match the Beermen’s attack (Well, let me rephrase it; It’s more like endure the Beermen’s attack). In terms of inside points, San Miguel only had a 2-point advantage against an out-sized STAR front line (40-38). However, the Hotshots simply had no answer to the Kraken, June Mar Fajardo who had a monstrous 20-20 performance of 21 points and 20 rebounds to go with 2 blocks. Fajardo was simply too much and no defender from STAR was able to match him one-on-one. The 5 turnovers that the Hotshots were able to force were mostly because 3 or 4 of them were ganging up on the big fella. It was largely because of June Mar that SMB was able to dominate the battle of the boards, 57-39. The Beermen were also able to snatch more offensive boards (24-15), that led to more shot opportunities.
In terms of the import match-up, I thought AZ Reid was going to win the scoring battle but Marqus Blakely was able to hold his own. Blakely was instrumental to that 3rd quarter uprising where he was able to find the gaps in the Beermen’s defense inside and was hitting three-point plays (and the bonus free throws as well! after averaging only 54.5 percent from the line in his first three outings, he hit 11/15 FTs in this game, good for 73 percent) one after another. He finished the game with 29 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. However, it was AZ Reid who stole the show. Although he was saddled by foul trouble late in the game, he was the one who sealed the game for SMB with a step-back fade-away jumper over Barroca (It was good defense, Reid’s shooting was just better). Reid also finished with 29 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and another win for SMB.
1. It was weird seeing Mick Pennisi in the starting 5 of the Hotshots. Maybe Reavis was injured (he didn’t play a single minute in this game)? Or was Coach Tim Cone trying to spice things up for his squad? The usual starters like PJ Simon, Marc Pingris, and even JDV came off the bench in this game. Coach Tim isn’t known to be playful with his lineups but given their current situation, I guess he felt the need to shake things up quite a bit. One good result of this experiment was the good game from Mark Barroca. In their previous games, Barroca was only able to contribute 7.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per contest. In this game as a starter, he was able to contribute 15 points, 5 rebounds, an assist and a steal in 36 minutes of action. If he starts to string games such as this one, STAR would be in a good position. This kind of performance from Barroca and the steady rise of Mallari will do wonders for the Hotshots in the long run.
2. Another question that’s left unanswered after this game was PJ Simon. He barely played in this game, entering the playing court for only close to 6 minutes. Was he injured? Or was this benching because of the rumored trades involving him? I hope we’ll have some answers in the next days ahead.
3. Right now at 1-3, is this another case of a slow start for the Hotshots? From the looks of this game, it seems that this could be what’s happening to them. James Yap had his “Big Game” moment in the 4th (that booming triple that trimmed the lead of the Beermen). Marc Pingris, seemed to be more aggressive compared to their previous losses. Also, there was less complaining to the referees and more leadership inside the court for the “Pinoy Sakuragi”. Was Coach Tim Cone finally able to re-ignite that “Fire and Desire” for the Hotshots? Hopefully I’m right about this one.