The STAR Hotshots (4-5) chances of making it to the playoffs got better as they won their last game against the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters. Now, in their final two games of the conference eliminations, they are looking to improve, if not solidify their position in the team standings going into the next round of play. Standing in their way right now are the Barako Bull Energy Cola (6-4).
Good thing for the Hotshots is that Barako hasn’t been the same dominant team that started this conference at 6-1. Since that hot start, they have lost three straight games to including a 22-point loss against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in their last game. However, with Barako’s decline comes a possibility of a breakout performance from them sometime soon – a thing that the STAR Hotshots must be aware of and must be ready for.
The biggest thing (literally and figuratively) they have to prepare for is Barako’s giant in the middle, Liam McMorrow. Right now, he is posting “Best Import” type of numbers and is a huge factor in Barako’s splendid run early in this conference. He has been averaging 27.5 points along with 20.7 rebounds (only behind Jarrid Famous‘ 24.2 RPG) per game.In my opinion, the STAR Hotshots doesn’t have someone who can match up with McMorrow one-on-one at the post. McMorrow will just muscle his way inside and dominate the game if the Hotshots only apply single coverage on him. They need to swarm him with two guys or even three if necessary. However, they must be careful in doing so as McMorrow is surrounded by guys who are capable of knocking down those wide-open shots from the outside. What the Hotshots need to do is be very disciplined with their defense. They must be precise with their timing on their double teams so as they won’t be burned by the snipers of Barako.
Although they have an imposing big guy down low, the offense of Barako still starts at the top, with their guards. If the Hotshots can also limit the production of these guys, they will be in a better position to win this game. Barroca, Melton, and Mallari‘s defense will be tested once more by the likes of Joseph Yeo, JC Intal, and RR Garcia. Defense will really be a primary factor in this game as Barako’s scoring average is close to 108 points per game in their wins and plummets to only 94 points per game in their losses.
Another determining factor in this match-up would be STAR’s outside shooting. In their last three wins, the Hotshots never shot below 35% from the outside. If the guys will have another good game shooting threes (especially the “walking mismatch” JDV), this can be an easy game for them. But if they struggle, expect the game to be a slug fest. I just hope that no matter what happens, STAR will come out on top after the final buzzer.
TV: LIVE ON TV5 AND AKSYONTV
RADIO: RADYO 92.3 NEWS FM AND DZSR 918 KHZ AM
TIME: 3:00 PM
ARENA: SMART-ARANETA COLISEUM
Featured Image Credit: Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sports 5; PSR.PH (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)