Purefoods Star Hotshots (1-0) (Yes, they dropped “Purefoods” from the team’s name and it sounded so awkward for me; up until now) kicked off their Governor’s Cup campaign with a win against the hard-luck NLEX Road Warriors (0-2), 89-85.
It was an up and down ball game. There were points in the match wherein it looked like that the Hotshots would have full control but the Road Warriors just kept coming back. As a matter of fact, just when the game was already decided (Hotshots led by 8 with less than a minute to go), NLEX went crazy from downtown (drilling 4-straight triples) that gave the Hotshots a scare. Luckily for them, the Road Warriors’ comeback fell short.
Game Breakdown: By the Numbers
|TEAM||FG (%)||3FG (%)||FTS (%)||ASTS||STLS||BLK|
|31/78 (39.7)||3/14 (21.4)||24/39 (61.5)||16||10||8|
|32/84 (38.1)||12/31 (38.7)||9/12 (75.0)||13||4||4|
Looking at the numbers,
Purefoods Star Hotshots (This will take some time getting used to. Haha) won this game through their hustle and defense: Steals 10-4 and Blocks 8-4. As they were facing one of the best offensive teams in the league, it was imperative for them to make NLEX work hard for offense. They were able to limit the Road Warriors to less than 20 points in the 1st and the 3rd quarter and would’ve done it also in the 4th if not for those late three-point bombs.
One thing that the Hotshots should look to improve on though is their shooting, both from the foul line and from beyond the arc. In this game, they went to line 39 times compared to only 12 times for NLEX but only made 24 of them (61.5%). If only they shot a little bit better, say 80%, it could have been a different ball game. Free throw shooting has always been the Hotshots’ weakness. Last conference, they ranked 2nd in the league in free throw attempts but 10th in terms of free throw percentage with only 64.2%. As for their three-point shooting in this game, nothing more can be said about it except that it was horrendous (JDV 1/5, JCY 0/3, PJS 0/1). They must work on their shooting stroke a lot more in practice as they can’t afford to perform like this against the top teams in the league.
Best Player of the Game
He’s back! Marqus Blakely, the ever-reliable reinforcement of the Hotshots announced his return to the league with a win and an impressive statline at that. Mr. Everything flirted with triple-double (just as I’ve predicted in my Pre-game Primer) finishing with 29 points, 18 rebounds, 1 assist, 7 steals, and 5 blocks. His energy was key in this game as he was able to disrupt the passing lanes and bother the shots of the Road Warriors in the paint. It was a much-needed performance from Blakely as his counterpart, Kwame Alexander, came out to play. Alexander finished with a massive double-double of 25 points and 26 rebounds, but in the end, it was Blakely’s overall impact that spelled the difference in this game.
Although he carried the Hotshots to this victory, he should look into improving his foul shots as he was largely responsible for lots of missed free throws (7/16 FT) in this game. However, the Hotshots were more than willing to let this go for now as he had to shoulder most of the load with the “Big 3” struggling in this game (more on this later).
1. The Star Hotshots unveiled their new uniforms and it looks like they will be shifting to a red-yellow-white color scheme this conference. And for me, and I think most will agree, they were kinda weird. I really don’t know what makes it look weird: Is it the Star logo? The big hot dog in front? Was it too simple? I hope that their away and alternate uniforms would be better than what they wore in this game. And I hope they continue to win games to make them bearable, at the very least.
2. It was a struggle all night for the so called “Big 3” of the Star Hotshots: PJ Simon – 4 points (2/7 FG), James Yap – 7 points (3/11 FG), and Marc Pingris – 8 points (3/9). Coach Tim Cone made an interesting comment about them after the game saying:
“We’re not playing as well as we should be. I still feel it’s a struggle for our Big Three, just to stay focused. They played so much basketball and they won so much, they’re kinda feeling bored with the game a little bit.” – Coach Tim Cone (via Interaksyon.com)
3. As the “Big 3” failed to deliver, it was a blessing for the Hotshots that the consistenly-inconsistent Alex Mallari had a great game. He was the only local to finish in double figures with 15 points (5/7 FG) and added four assists and four rebounds as well. If Mallari continues to do this on a nightly basis (with a little improvement on his defense too), it will be a sign of good things to come for the Hotshots.
Featured Image Credit: Zeke Alonzo, Tie Breaker Times (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)