The Purefoods Star Hotshots (2-0) passed their first test this conference, beating last conference’s runners-up Alaska, 108-88. Although it wasn’t a “fair” test to say the least. Alaska played without two of its best back court and front court players in Jvee Casio and Sonny Thoss. Parang nag-exam ka tapos binigay na sa’yo ng teacher kalahati ng mga sagot. It made life easier for the Hotshots to grab their second-straight win in this Commissioner’s Cup, their hottest start since the same tourney last year.
But aside from injuries from the other team, Purefoods made life easier for themselves by playing terrific basketball right from the get-go and never looked back.
Story of the Game: Sizzling Hot Offense
27 points in the first quarter alone. That’s how potent Purefoods’ offense was against Alaska in this game. As a team, they shot 51% from the field anchored on 43% from beyond the arc (maybe this has something to do with their new Shooting Coach, David Nurse).
Their offense was fluid as they moved the ball around pretty well, finding the open man, and playing unselfish Purefoods basketball. They dished out a total of 25 (7 from Blakely, 5 from Devance, and 8 players registering at least one) assists compared to only 13 by the Aces. Because of this, it was a well-balanced attack with 5 players scoring at least 10 points and all players (with at least 3 minutes) able to contribute for the Hotshots.
Purefoods’ offensive attack was led again by “Mr. Everything”, Marqus Blakely who finished the game with 17 points (33% from the field), 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals. His counterpart from Alaska, DJ Covington, actually outscored Blakely but he didn’t affect the game that much unlike Marqus. Although Blakely’s performance was not as superb as his first game, it was still enough for the Hotshots to be able to grab the W.
James Yap, after a forgettable first game this conference, bounced back as he also chipped in 17 points (55% from the field), to go with 2 rebounds and 3 assists in this game.
Alex Mallari, this game’s best player, continued to impress with the minutes Coach Tim has been giving him. From 18.9 minutes in the Philippine Cup, Alex Mallari’s minutes jumped to 30.6 minutes per game. He’s been the beneficiary of PJ Simon’s minutes who’s still unable to play due to back spasms. And fortunately for Purefoods, Mallari been putting up solid numbers for them. In this game, he finished with 17 points as well (63% shooting) together with 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block.
- In my pre-game, I mentioned Joe Devance and Calvin Abueva as the main catalysts for their respective teams. In this game, Purefoods was able to lessen Abueva’s impact in the game as the prolific forward finished with 12 points but only managed to grab 3 rebounds. On the other hand, JDV just scored 4 points but made up for it in terms of assists (5) and rebounding (7).
- Aside from their offensive attack, what kept Purefoods in the lead the entire game was their hustle and their energy. They were quicker to the ball and that extra effort to tip away lose balls worked in their favor. Marc Pingris and Mark Barroca’s relentlessness on both ends of the floor were key to this victory by the Hotshots.
- PJ Simon was unable to suit up for this game but his absence was hardly felt as his teammates stepped up and filled the void he left in terms of scoring. Hopefully, Simon can return in their game against BWE to get his timing back slowly but surely.
- For the 2nd straight game, Jerwin Gaco got some minutes in this one, much to the delight of the #Gaconatics in attendance. Purefoods has been 2-0 so far when Gaco plays. Therefore, Gaco = Win for the Hotshots. #Analysis (Of course, I’m just kidding. Haha!)
Looking Ahead: Blakely vs. Orton
During this game against Alaska, Purefoods’ first choice as import this conference in Daniel Orton arrived and was able to catch a glimpse of the game. Now that Orton’s here, Coach Tim Cone has to decide on who to play in their next game against Blackwater, Blakely or Orton. That wouldn’t be an easy choice with the way Blakely’s been playing so far. It would be interesting to see how Coach Tim Cone and the rest of Purefoods’ Coaching Staff handles this transition from Blakely to Orton. I just hope that it will be smooth and that Orton can provide the firepower, hustle, and energy that Blakely has provided the team in their first 2 games.