Usually, it’s San Miguel that wastes big leads and ends up on the losing end of a ball game. However, in this game against Purefoods, they found themselves on the other end of the stick. The Purefoods Star Hotshots, who lead by as much as 17, were rattled by the Beermen’s tight defense and fast offense (i.e. Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter). It was a frenetic fourth quarter for both teams. Purefoods actually had a chance to win the game in regulation on James Yap’s step-back three but it just went in and out. Tough luck for the Hotshots and Big Game James.
But it turned out that “Big Game” was saving his best for last. He went berserk in overtime sinking two dagger three-pointers and a nifty assist to Marc Pingris down low to seal the game for the Hotshots. Parang ginusto niya talagang bawiin ‘yung minintis niyang tres. He may struggle all game long but when big shots are needed, James Yap rises to the occasion. This performance just proved that he is indeed “Big Game” James.
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Purefoods was able to take the lead and dominate the Beermen (up until late in the third and early in the fourth) by concentrating their attack inside the paint. They had the edge in terms of points in the paint, 56-46. Their attack was led by Denzel Bowles who had a game-high 35 points (13 of 29 from the field), 17 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 blocks. The triangle was well executed as Purefoods’ interior passing resulted into easy, uncontested baskets in the shaded lane. The Hotshots were very aggressive in attacking inside and with Bowles leading the charge (with the support of Pingris), June Mar Fajardo had to manage his fouls. However, Fajardo was left with no other option and he used up all of his fouls in this game. It was a decent performance for him, 14 points and 17 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Hotshots inside.
The Beermen actually made a ball game out of this one because of their late fourth quarter surge. In that quarter, Purefoods allowed the Beermen to score 32 points which was simply too much. Fortunately for them, the game had to go to overtime. Purefoods wasn’t able to take good care of the ball in that stretch (resulting into a total of 19 turnovers). And just like the other teams that dealt Purefoods a loss, San Miguel was able to convert Purefoods’ turnovers into points at the other end. Purefoods was very lucky to actually escape this game with a win, after that atrocious showing in the fourth quarter.
– With the Beermen coming in close, there was one player that stabilized things for the Hotshots, shooting guard Alex Mallari. Mallari has been trusted by Coach Tim Cone with heavy minutes in the guard position and he played well in this one. He finished this game with 17 points (highest local scorer for Purefoods), 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Mallari’s actually a type of player that’s really good when he’s playing good and he can also be really bad when it’s an off night for him. Luckily for Purefoods, it was the “good” Mallari that showed up against his former team. If not for James Yap’s overtime heroics, Mallari would have been player of the game.
– Another player who had a solid showing for Purefoods was Marc Pingris. Denzel Bowles and Marc Pingris have this certain connection that’s been allowing Pingris to produce solid numbers for Purefoods since the import’s arrival. In this game, Pingris finished with 15 points (6 of 8 shooting), 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block.
– Free throw watch: Purefoods made 19 of 29 foul shots in this game, good for only 65.5 percent. Although it’s a better percentage than their last game, they must improve their free throw numbers game in and game out.
It was a great win for Purefoods (5-3) against SMB (1-6) as they will be facing the league leader in Talk ‘N Text in their next game after the All-Star break. It will be another tough game for Purefoods but with Denzel Bowles steadily getting reacquainted with Coach Tim’s triangle offense, they have a better chance of scoring an upset against the Ivan Johnson-led Tropang Texters.
Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Slam.PH; Nuki Sabio, PBA (Edited by: MI.NI for Humblebola)