Right from the get-go, the fate of the STAR Hotshots (3-5) in this game was inevitable. Although they led at the end of the 1st quarter by 3, it was obvious (at least for me) that they fell for Rain or Shine’s (5-4) trap. Engaging the Elasto Painters in a shoot-out usually doesn’t end well for the opposing side and the Hotshots had to learn this the hard way. They were dominated, outclassed, and out shined, 103-88.
Just take a look at the quarter scoring: 22-27-27-27. Allowing a team to score like this would certainly increase the probability of a loss for your squad – and it usually rises to 90-100 percent if you’re against the Rain or Shine; especially right now that they are slowly getting back to their lethal form and getting their import integrated in their system.
STAR had no answer for Wendell McKines. In 43 minutes, McKines bullied his way inside. He had no regard to whoever was in front of him as he finished with 28 points on 61.1% shooting. Aside from scoring, he was also able to grab a game-high 14 rebounds (10 on the offensive end).
So bad was the Hotshots’ defense that Jeff Chan finally found his touch and torched them in this game. He played his best game of the conference with an effective field goal percentage of 63.6 to finish with 16 points to provide the solid local support to McKines. But to be fair to the Hotshots, Chan made some really wild shots in this game that no defense can really do nothing about. But the problem there was, they let the “Negros Sniper” heat up and they paid heavily for it.
Taking a look at the numbers in this game, Rain or Shine really did have their way on offense. They were on pace to score 122 points on 100 possessions and had an eFG% of 55.1. Interestingly though, STAR’s turnovers wasn’t a factor in this loss, so maybe that can be considered as one of the few positive things they can take away from this game.
However, another huge blow for them was the sub-par performance of “Mr. Everything”, Marqus Blakely. Although he still had a double-double, he only managed to score 13 points on only 7 shot attempts. This is what I was saying in my pre-game primer regarding Rain or Shine’s familiarity with Blakely. Having faced him numerous times, they already knew hot to defend him and get into his head. Marqus is usually a calm person on the court but against the Elasto Painters’ feisty defense, he complained to the referees and had some second motions more than the usual.
Aside from the turnovers mentioned a while ago, something positive they could look into their remaining games was the splendid play of their heart and soul, Marc Pingris. Finally, Pingris had a game like this. He was in “FIBA Asia” mode going against his Gilas teammates, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, and Paul Lee. What I liked about Ping’s performance in this game more than his point production (conference-high 25 points) was his effort amidst Rain or Shine’s domination in the game. Together with Mark Barroca, they showed that if they’re gonna lose, they’re gonna lose fighting. If Ping can carry over this effort in their last three games, this would be a much needed boost for them. Especially right now that PJ Simon and James Yap‘s shooting and scoring problems continue to be a pain for STAR as the conference goes along.
But then again, the conference isn’t over yet for STAR. It was just one of those games wherein the other team got off early and never looked back. This type of games happen and they just need to move on to the next one. People need to relax (especially STAR fans) because they still have a shot at making it to the playoffs. Let’s just hope that once they manage to reach the next stage, they will be able to switch gears and make a push for another championship once more. Talk of trades and other unnecessary things must be reserved at the end of the conference, if they fail to defend their crown. They still have three games remaining: TNT, BAR, and BWE. It will be a tough stretch. Talk ‘N Text’s a champion team, Barako’s been one of the best teams in the league right now, and Blackwater’s got nothing to lose against them. A three-game winning streak will be a difficult one to achieve but nothing’s impossible. Right now, they have just got to take it one game at a time.
Featured Image Credit: Zeke Alonzo, Tie Breaker Times (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)