Playoff games aren’t supposed to be like that. Playoff games are supposed to be competitive ball games; two teams battling it out, giving it their all to emerge victorious after the game.
But the STAR Hotshots would have none of it. They defied convention and made this one a one-sided affair in less than two quarters. At the half, they were ahead by 38 points, 73-35. 38 points. Again I repeat, 38 points. What they did was quite unbelievable. Not only were they able to build that big of a lead, but they also were able to limit the league’s best offensive team to only 35 points in 24 minutes of action. This game showed everybody STAR’s mentality when it comes to games like this. For them, this was more than just a playoff game: it was survival.
With their backs against the wall, the STAR unleashed the beasts within them. They played with no mercy, annihilating GlobalPort by 53 points in the most-lopsided victory in playoffs history in the PBA.
Against the “Young and Gun” squad, nobody expected them to play like this. So how were the Hotshots able to win (and win big at that) and force a do-or-die game for a slot in the semi-finals? Let’s look at some numbers.
For the STAR Hotshots, they once again showed why they are regarded as one of the best defensive teams in the league in recent years.
GlobalPort is a young team that relies on their fast break attack to break down opponents. They had the tools to do this with their spitfire guards in Romeo and Pringle. Against the Hotshots, considered by many as already old and past their prime, they were supposed to outrun and outgun them. However, with the Hotshots’ lock-down defense (forced them to 26 turnovers), the Batang Pier were held scoreless in transition – no fast break attempts and zero fast break points. The Hotshots on the other hand were able to score 26 points in transition mostly because of turnovers by the Batang Pier. It was a masterful performance for them on the break highlighted by James Yap‘s vintage slam.
Their defense was so good that GlobalPort wasn’t able to use their other weapon which is the three-point shot (2nd-best three-point shooting team in the eliminations with 35.8%). With Romeo, Pringle, Buenafe, and Krayem, they were more than capable of shooting their way to victory. But then again, the Hotshots were ready for this. They were able to limit the Batang Pier to only 6 makes out of 23 attempts (26.1%) with 4 of it coming from Romeo. Only 2 other players from GlobalPort were able to hit an outside shot, Semerad and Miranda. The usual suspects, Pringle, Krayem, and Buenafe, were held scoreless from three-point country shooting 0/4, 0/2, and 0/3 respectively.
With their running game and outside game checked by STAR, GlobalPort still had another weapon at their disposal (that’s how dangerous they are), their monster import, Jarrid Famous. Before this game, this guy was posting monster rebounding number for his team. In this game however, Coach Tim Cone was able to devise a game plan for the big guy and was able to limit him to only 15 rebounds. Marqus Blakely on the other hand was his usual self as the Batang Pier failed to stop him. He had 23 points on 10 of 11 from the floor to go with 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks; Mr. Everything, as usual.
As their defense was on point, their offense followed and it resulted into a balanced attack for the Hotshots. Let’s just let the number speak for themselves. Of all the players fielded in by Coach Tim Cone, only one didn’t score a single point (Rafi Reavis). Also, 9 players were able to chip in at least 5 points and 5 of them were able to score in double digits led by Blakely’s 23, Barroca’s 16, Yap’s 15, Mallari’s 15, and Melton‘s 14. Points came from everywhere (24-8 assist advantage) for STAR and GlobalPort was left searching for answers all throughout the game. Will they be able to find the answer on their next encounter?
LOOKING AHEAD: GLOBALPORT’S COUNTER-ATTACK
Do-or-Die. One more win for another trip to the semi-finals. Can the Hotshots do it? With the way they’ve played tonight, I believe they’ve got a great chance to make history and finally break their losing streak when facing a twice-to-beat disadvantage. All things are coming together for STAR right now and what a time for it to come. They just have to continue what they’ve started and prepare harder than ever as they’ll be facing a GlobalPort team that’s raring to get back at them. Impressive as their victory was, it will not matter if they lose the next one. With their championship experience at hand, every Hotshot knows this. It will be a war and I’m pretty sure Coach Tim will have his soldiers ready to fire by then.
Featured Image Credit: Zeke Alonzo, Tie Breaker Times (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)