Manila Clasico. Purefoods STAR vs. Ginebra. It will be another explosive match-up between these two storied franchises, both coming off huge wins here in the 2015 Governor’s Cup. The STAR Hotshots (2-4) finally snapped their 4-game losing skid against the KIA Carnival in their last game in Angeles Pampanga. Ginebra (3-4), on the other hand, is coming off a huge overtime win against a gritty GlobalPort squad. Aside from their rivalry, what makes this game more exciting is that both teams will be looking to go on a winning streak with the playoffs getting close.

What does STAR need to do in order for them to get this win? One, they have got to play their best defensively. Ginebra has too many weapons starting with their prolific import in Orlando Johnson. Although his performance has tapered off a little bit, he is still the number one scorer this conference averaging 36.7 points per game. Their other import, Jiwan Kim, is proving to be another solid weapon for Coach Frankie Lim. In his debut game against GlobalPort, Kim tallied 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists and it seems that he’s a better fit for Ginebra compared to their former Mongolian import, Sanchir Tungalag (although it’s just one game, Kim was excellent and can only be better). As for the locals, the Hotshots must be able to contain or at least be wary of Japeth Aguilar. He was a huge factor in their win against the Batang Pier and is currently 2nd in the league (locals) in terms of efficiency with a PER of 25.0 only behind MVP-candidate Jayson Castro (PER 28.3). One more thing, the Hotshots must be able to control the pace of the ball game and bother Ginebra’s execution (i.e. disrupt passing lanes – 3rd in AST%, close out on shooters – 5th in 3FG% (32.2), and be disciplined on defense).

The Hotshots will once again rely on the energy of Marqus Blakely but as always, ample local support must be given. James Yap was able to do it against KIA. Can he duplicate that “Big Game” performance here against Ginebra? Or will another Hotshot step up? PJ Simon maybe? He’s due for a breakout game after struggling here in the Governor’s Cup so far.

Fearless forecast? I think Ginebra is capable of breaking this game wide open if STAR won’t be able to provide that much-needed local support to Marqus Blakely. However, if any of these guys – James Yap / PJ Simon / Joe Devance / Marc Pingris / Mark Barroca manages to have a solid performance, it will be another classic match-up with the winner being decided in the last few possessions of the ball game. A James Yap buzzer-beater would be a sweet way to cap a victory against Ginebra. I hope my prediction is right this time around.


TIME: 5:15 PM

Featured Image Credit: Pranz Kaeno Billones, Sports 5; Josh Albelda, ABSCBN Sports (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)