The bumpy ride towards another title continues for the defending champions. Against the Alaska Aces (4-1), the STAR Hotshots (1-4) suffered another set-back, their 4th in a row at that, 92-86.

Score PF ALA

The outcome of this game shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore as it was a match-up between a team that’s been playing well as of late and a team that’s still groping for form. However, in the early moments of the game, it looked like the Hotshots found their form right then and there. They were making their shots and was able to lead Alaska by as much as 8 in the first half of play.

However, come the 2nd half, everything fell into place. It was back to reality. Alaska was able to take control of the game, like they should, and STAR couldn’t seem to find the answer. In the end, it was Alaska who made the key plays and went on to grab another victory to remain at the top of the team standings. As for STAR, they sank even deeper into the team standings; in an unfamiliar yet quite familiar territory for the team (you know what I mean).

Game Breakdown: By the Numbers

HBStats (4)

It was another game that was quite close but not quite for the Hotshots. Sayang. They shot the ball better compared to the Aces and were able to limit Jvee Casio to only 4 points after exploding for 21 points against the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. You may say that they were actually pretty good in terms of defense with only only one player scoring in double figures aside from their import. However, this wasn’t the case as they allowed Alaska an ORTG of 106.0 in this game. Also, 8 players were able to score and contribute at least 5 points in this game, 5 of them coming off the bench.

Ball movement was another issue in this game. STAR allowed Alaska to dish 22 assists, a number that’s above their average of 20.8 per game. And for the Hotshots that was known to be a team that thrives in ball movement a long long time ago, continued to be stagnant on offense with only 14 assists in this game.

Aside from ball movement, it was turnovers that cost STAR another game. It’s actually been killing them the entire conference with a 16.2% TOV (league worst – together with Blackwater). In this game, they committed a total of 20 turnovers which resulted into 27 turnover points for Alaska. If you give an opponent extra possessions like that, it’s bound to hurt the team’s chances of winning the game.

Adding to the Hotshots' woes was Blakely's foul trouble in this game (Photo Credit: Zeke Alonzo, Tie Breaker Times)

Adding to the Hotshots’ woes was Blakely’s foul trouble in this game (Photo Credit: Zeke Alonzo, Tie Breaker Times)

As I’ve said earlier, one of the things that went right for the Hotshots is their shooting. Slowly, they have been hitting their mark a little bit better the past couple of games especially from the free throw line (including Marqus Blakely); they just need to practice their threes a little bit more. Having said that, this is still not enough if they will allow opponents to score more points at the other end. Many people are asking the question, why are the Hotshots losing? or why are they struggling? The answer is simple: lack of defense and turnovers. If they could address these issues in their remaining games, they could still have a chance at one playoff spot. If they couldn’t, they could be on their way to Bora sooner than they would’ve wanted to be.

Game Notes

1. Looking at the box score, I was quite concerned on how Coach Tim shuffled his players in this game. Yes, Coach Tim is known to play his starters major minutes but shouldn’t he spread out these minutes a little bit more. I know it’s a difficult task (distributing minutes to your players) but I think other players deserve more playing time. It could work both ways: with the starters getting rest for the home stretch and the youngsters getting a chance to play and build their game. One case is Justin Melton who just played 8 minutes in this game. For me, I think he should’ve played more considering he’s the only player that got minutes that had a DRTG below 100. With that being said, I support Coach Tim’s decision to lessen the minutes of STAR’s struggling duo of PJ Simon and James Yap.

2. Despite the losing streak, fans of the Hotshots have something to be positive about: Mark Barroca. He’s been the leading local scorer in their past 2 games and from what I can see, the grit is back for the “STAR Prince”. With PJ Simon and James Yap struggling, it’s quite proper that someone other than the two step-up and hold the fort on both ends; and Mark Barroca’s the guy that could do this. He once led the Hotshots to a championship. He had his struggles this season but from the looks of it, he’s over that phase and looks ready to lead STAR, one game at a time. But will Mark Barroca alone be enough?

Will Barroca be enough? (Photo Credit: Paolo Papa, Sports 5)

Will Barroca be enough? (Photo Credit: Paolo Papa, Sports 5)


Featured Image Credit: Zeke Alonzo, Tie Breaker Times (Edited by: MI.NI Graphics and Design)