Fireworks are always expected whenever these two teams meet on the hard court. All the more now that there was another factor in play, Coach Tim Cone. For the first time in 5 years, Coach Tim is on the other side, coaching Ginebra, in a Manila Clasico match.
It was an explosive match right from the get go but it was STAR with the extra bounce on their step and at times even one or two more steps ahead of Ginebra. 5 years of running the Triangle as compared to Ginebra that was back to square one, re-learning the system, the advantage really belonged to the Hotshots.
But for them to dominate Ginebra, 37-13 after the opening quarter, was totally unexpected. Against Rain or Shine, they had a good start. In this game against Ginebra, it was the best start they could ever hope for.
Witnessing that STAR onslaught in the first quarter was scary – both in a good way and a bad way. It was a good kind of scary because they showed they can dominate with the “Run and Gun” system. But on the other hand, it was a bad kind of scary because Ginebra for sure would make a run behind their 6th man – the crowd at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Also, knowing Coach Tim Cone, adjustments will come as the game moves along.
What happened to them against Rain or Shine can happen once again here against Ginebra – End-game collapse and fading away down the stretch.
Yes, that Ginebra #NSD run eventually happened. Luckily for the Hotshots, they were able to avert disaster. They have built enough cushion in the first half to save them from another collapse as they won the game 86-78.
It was a 58-38 first half for the STAR Hotshots. Their offense was phenomenal. Everyone was able to contribute including new-addition Ronald Pascual. In his first PBA minutes, Pascual was the one who punctuated the Hotshots’ strong start with a buzzer-beating triple to end the first quarter of play.
But the 2nd half struggles of STAR continued. For the 2nd straight game, they were outscored in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Moving forward, Coach Jason Webb must be able to find a way to inject consistency to the Hotshots’ play. They can’t afford to have a sub-par performance, most especially in the last 24 minutes of action.
Somehow, it can be said that the Hotshots got lucky in this win. First and foremost, they faced a Ginebra squad in their first game together under Coach Tim Cone. Halatang nangangapa pa sa Triangle.
Next, they were able to survive the massive performances of Ginebra’s Twin Towers in Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar as well as the late-game explosion of NCAA’s Mr. Triple Double, Earl Thomspon (Watch out, LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado, this kid’s got game!). The Hotshots had no answer to Ginebra’s inside attack. Slaughter finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds while Aguilar had 26 points and 16 rebounds as well. Marc Pingris, Ian Sangalang, Rafi Reavis, and Norbert Torres at times, tried to limit the contributions of both players but they simply were unstoppable. Coach Tim Cone really knows how to bring the best out of his players.
James Yap’s 2nd half struggles
Although James Yap was named the Best Player of the Game, it can’t be denied that he struggled big time in the 2nd half of play. In 2 games so far, it can be seen that he’s the focal point of Coach Jason Webb’s offense. For them to string more games, James Yap must find a way to stay consistent for the whole game as his performance greatly affects his team’s chance of success.
Norbert Torres is killing it!
Norbert Torres continues to impress for the Hotshots. In 15 minutes of play, he was able to tally 8 points on a perfect shooting night including back-to-back hits from rainbow country. In his first 2 games as a pro, he’s perfect from the three-point line. It’s very surprising to see him hit those three-pointers as he only shot 2 of 19 from deep in his entire UAAP career with DLSU. Hopefully, he’ll be able to stay consistent. He’s got a good feel for the game and this is a good thing for STAR moving forward.
Speaking of three-point shooting, the Hotshots were able to improve from an atrocious 19% performance from deep against Rain or Shine. Against Ginebra, the Hotshots shot a respectable 37% (10 of 21) from downtown. It’s not a solid percentage, but it’s a step in the right direction. Two players that need to put up some extra shots in practice are Alex Mallari and James Yap as they only shot a combined 2 of 10 from the arc.
Overall, it was a good win for the Hotshots. A few days rest and they will be back in action against a Terrence Romeo-led GlobalPort Batang Pier squad. It will be an exciting game for sure and hopefully by then, Coach Jason Webb can already figure out how to deal with STAR’s 2nd half struggles.