THE Star Hotshots and coach Jason Webb need a breakout performance in the coming PBA Commissioner's Cup to atone for the shock of missing out on the playoffs in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
But they can't seem to catch a break.
Reports reaching Spin.ph bared that since the team began preparing for the import-laced conference last month, injuries have hit key players left and right, so much so that the team rarely practiced with a full complement of players.
"Wala hindi pa sila nakakakumpleto ng ensayo, kaliwa't kanan sa players may injury," said a team insider who asked that he not be identified.
Star superstar James Yap just returned to practice on Thursday after a week out due to a hamstring issue, Marc Pingris also did not join practice for more or less the same span because of a knee problem while young forward Yousef Taha failed to finish the Star-Ginebra tune-up due to dehydration.
"Yun ang nangyayari ngayon sa team. Puro injury," said the source. "Sila James at Ping, ayun hindi rin nag-ensayo ng isang linggo."
The problems do not end there.
Former Gilas Pilipinas cadet Ronald Pascual has yet to report to practice since the team's December 25 game against Barangay Ginebra, prompting team management to seek the help of his adviser, lawyer Charlie Chua.
"Hindi nagpapakita si Ronald. Walang text, walang tawag. Hindi nila makontak kaya nagpapatulong na sila sa mga agent niya sa Pampanga," he said.
Another former San Sebastian star, Ian Sangalang, also missed some time due to recurring pain in his knee, Rafi Reavis is also dealing with some issues, while Allein Maliksi is sidelined by a painful knee.
"Lagi kaming kulang sa ensayo. Hindi nakukumpleto 'yan kahit kaillan," he said.
The injuries do not bode well for the plans of Webb, who, since taking over from Tim Cone at the start of the season, has ditched the triangle offense and aspired to turn the Hotshots into an up-tempo team that runs and guns at every opportunity.
To prepare the Hoshots for a fast-paced system, Webb needs his players to be in the best of shape - the reason, the source said, Star practices have been as intense as they've ever been.
"Matindi kasi ang ensayo araw araw ng team. Hindi go hard eh. Hard talaga saka suicide," he said. "Takbo takbo ganun tapos drop to the floor. Parang college nga."
Problem is, injuries keep getting in the way.
Aside from that, balik-import Denzel Bowles is also in a rush to reach full fitness after a long layoff. Bowles signed with the Marinos de Anzoategui in Venezuela last October but is said to have only joined the team's practices last December.
He eventually flew to the Philippines in the second week of January for his fourth of duty with the Hotshots.