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    Back to work for James Yap and Co. as Purefoods makes final push for top two place

    Mar 9, 2015
    James Yap and the Hotshots try to improve on their 5-3 record and fourth place standing. Jerome Ascano

    PUERTO PRINCESA — It’s back to work for the PBA All-Stars and a handful of Purefoods Hotshots hope for a seamless return to the team in the run-up to the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.

    Tim Cone stayed behind in Manila with the rest of the team including recently reacquired import Denzel Bowles to work on their plays, while six Hotshots participated in the All-Star festivities in Palawan.

    But James Yap noted that while they are eager to improve on their 5-3 record and current standing at fourth, it was necessary for the top Purefoods players to join the All Star events.

    “Parang give-back natin itong All-Star sa mga fans, although sabi nga ni coach, basta pagbalik namin eh focus na kami sa practice," Yap said, whose South team bowed to North, 161-166, on Sunday night.

    [See Tim Cone doesn't mind staying away from All-Stars as he gives Denzel Bowles refresher course on ‘triangle’]

    The Purefoods Star top gunner is also hopeful that returning import Denzel Bowles is ready for the team's final push for a possible top two spot.

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    "Kailangan lang ng adjustment ni Denzel, kasi marami ring dinagdag ni coach (Tim Cone) sa sistema," added Yap, one of six Purefoods Star players who participated in the All-Star games.

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    Asi Taulava was actually set to go straight to practice from the airport as NLEX gets back into action on Wednesday.

    [See Ginebra, Alaska, NLEX All-Stars head straight to practice from Palawan as focus shifts to playoff race]

    “This is a big week for us because we need to win against Ginebra and GlobalPort to make it back to the top four," said Taulava in a serious tone before leaving Palawan on Monday morning.

    The Road Warriors headed to the All-Star break with a 3-4 record after dismantling Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer, 100-93 and sister team Meralco, 89-76.

    NLEX, which is gunning for its first playoff spot this season, faces Barangay Ginebra (4-3) on Wednesday, before returning to action on Sunday against GlobalPort (4-4).

    Rain or Shine also had a handful of players that saw action in Palawan, and combo guard Paul Lee hopes the break helped them recharge for the crucial stretch of the eliminations.

    "Siyempre, top two ang gusto namin kaya kailangan 'yan paghirapan," said Lee.

    "Mabigat ang mga kalaban namin so mahalaga ngayon is maibalik namin ang timing namin since marami kaming naglaro sa All-Star," added the 'Lee-thal Weapon.'

    Aside from Lee, Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan and Beau Belga also saw action in Sunday's South versus North All-Star game, while youthful slotman Raymond Almazan saw action for the Sophomores-Rookies match on Friday.

    The Elasto Painters have won their last three games with victories over The Hotshots, the Alaska Aces and Barako Bull Energy.

    Rain or Shine is set to play four games over the next nine games, beginning this Friday against San Miguel.

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    James Yap and the Hotshots try to improve on their 5-3 record and fourth place standing. Jerome Ascano
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