I guess that tough loss against Ginebra served as the wake-up call for the Purefoods Star Hotshots. After being dealt a beating by their sister-team (66-89), it was their turn this time to dominate, scoring a big victory against the NLEX Road Warriors, 92-76.
It was as if Purefoods came back from the dead in this game. That old championship form that seems to be missing for the past 4 games has been rediscovered and put into display by Purefoods in this game as they had NLEX’s number for most of the game and lead by as much as 18 points.
Story of the Game
Relative to their first four games, Purefoods relied heavily on their defense to dispatch NLEX in this game. They were able to hold the Road Warriors to below 20 points for the first 3 quarters (18, 19, and 13) and were able build enough cushion and fought fire with fire in the 4th quarter (26-26) to secure this victory.
It was an all-out team effort on the defensive end as the Hotshots were able to limit the Road Warriors shooting clip to 41% on only 5 of 22 (23%) makes from deep. Purefoods actually did a great job in closing out on the shooters of NLEX (Villanueva 1/9, Canaleta 0/3, and Cardona 0/1) as they really struggled from deep. Purefoods’ defense also forced NLEX to more turnovers (15-12) and made it hard for the Road Warriors to move the ball around (only 13 dimes) with only 5 players able to contribute at least an assist for the team.
I guess Coach Tim Cone’s ploy of calling out Purefoods’ veterans in defense worked well for the team. Hopefully, this defense-first mentality would carry over in their remaining games this conference for them move further up the team standings. They should stick with this game plan and do what they do best which is to play solid defense.
Aside from being able to display their championship form on defense, the Hotshots also had a great game on the offensive end. Compared to their previous games wherein it was one-pass-then-shoot or iso-ball kind of offense (which was an eye sore), the Hotshots had better ball movement this time around as the team tallied 16 assists coming from 10 different players showing the fluidity of Purefoods’ offense in this game.
As a result of this unselfishness by the entire Purefoods team, every player had the chance to contribute. All players fielded in by Coach Tim Cone (for at least a minute) was able to contribute and scored at least 2 points in this game. Purefoods’ ball movement in this game was a refreshing sight not only because it was missing the past couple of games but also because it made the game easier for them. In the words of Marc Pingrisv, “Mas madali yung laro kapag umiikot yung bola hindi yung nagkakanya-kanya kami.”
Nightly Notables: SIMON-YAP-DEVANCE
This trio of Purefoods carried much of the scoring effort in this game combining for a total of 58 points. It was PJ Simon who led the way with 20 points on an impeccable 9/10 shooting from the field (95% eFG) to go with 4 rebounds and 2 assists. As for James Yap, it was a great bounce-back game from him scoring 19 points (50% eFG) to go with 4 rebounds and an assist after a dismal Manila Clasico showing against Ginebra. Joe Devance once again had a “Fantasy MVP” kind of stat line as he was able to contribute 19 points (68% eFG), 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in 32 minutes of action.
With PJ Simon and James Yap regaining their lethal form, and with Joe Devance being consistent with what he does, Purefoods will be a hard team to stop in their up and coming games.
Up next for Purefoods is a win-less team in Blackwater Elite. With the way they’ve played against NLEX in this game, the next game would be a walk in the park for the Hotshots for sure (Hope I don’t jinx this one. Haha!)