After an impressive season opener against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, it doesn’t get any easier for coach Leo Austria and his boys as they go up against the defending AFC champions and Grand Slam team, the Purefoods Star Hotshots.
Schedule-wise, we knew it was not going to be easy for the newly appointed head coach, dealing with a tough two-game opener, having scrapped the old system entirely, and only practicing with the centerpiece of their offense, reigning PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, for two weeks. Nevertheless, they had a very good showing against ROS with their defensive effort and composure in the end game. They will look to continue the moment against a slightly depleted Purefoods lineup, with Ian Sangalang out with ACL/MCL injuries and Marc Pingris still resting from his Gilas stint. The absence of these two should allow Arwind Santos and Fajardo to shine once more.
But of course, a Time Cone-coached team should never be underestimated no matter who is in their lineup. Of note will be the defense against their guards, especially James Yap who waxed hot in his last game (8-of-8 from the field in the first half). I also expect them to swarm Fajardo whenever he gets the ball in the post, the same tactic they used last season. Fajardo will have to do a good job of kicking out to his teammates and they, in turn, have to hit their outside shots, something they could not do well against ROS in the second half (only 21 percent on 3-pointers overall).
If they can keep the ball moving, hit their outside shots, and check the opposing guards, they stand a good chance of ending up with a nice 2-0 record.
Featured Image Credit: Mon Rubio, The Shaded Lane.