STAR Hotshots vs. KIA Carnival. Looking at each team’s rosters, most would probably say that the Hotshots have the better record and is the favored to win the match-up; needless to say, KIA’s a younger franchise than STAR/Purefoods.

However, the Hotshots’ strength on paper and its rich history of championships doesn’t seem to matter this conference as they are suffering a four-game slide right now. They look lost and still groping for form. As for the Carnival, it has been a great conference so far for the young franchise; three wins and just one loss with a kind of line-up that they have is impressive. Acting Head Coach Chito Victolero has done a marvelous job of putting these guys together and make them play hard game in and game out. LA Revilla has been solid at the point guard spot and unheralded players like Karl Dehesa, Hyram Bagatsing are slowly making a name for themselves here with the Carnival. Alex Nuyles also looks like he has found a home in KIA after struggling during his stint at Blackwater. The stellar play of both their imports, Chang and N’Diaye (KIA with a 10.3 BLK% – first in the league because of this guy. #BlockParty!) is a big boost as well.

Having said all of that, the Hotshots are in for a tough game. They will be up against one of the better rebounding teams (52.7 TREB% – 2nd) and the best defensive team  in the league today. They are only allowing 94.3 points per 100 possessions in 4 games this conference.  For STAR to win this game, they must not allow KIA to have three or four guys score and contribute in terms of offense. In short, they must be able to play solid defense; if they take care of this, their offense will follow. One more thing, lessen those turnovers. They are currently number 1 in terms of turnovers with a 16.2 TOV%. You can’t win games if you give your opponent more shot opportunities right? It will be expected that Blakely will shoulder the load once more with Barroca and Mallari supporting him. It will also be huge for them if one or two of the big three (finally) breaks out of that slump and have a great game.

Coming into this game, even if they are the team with the better record, there’s no pressure for KIA to win. Actually, the pressure is on STAR, as another loss would be a big blow for their aspirations to make the playoffs. Can the Hotshots handle it?


TIME: 5:00 PM

Featured Image Credit: PBA Images; Sherwin Vardeleon, CNN Philippines (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)