FOR reigning PBA Philippine Cup champion Purefoods, it wasn’t the exact way to start a title defense.
But team superstar James Yap believes the 93-73 rout suffered by the Hotshots at the hands of the Alaska Aces at the start of their campaign Wednesday night should test the character of the Grand Slam champion especially with the absence of big men Marc Pingris and Ian Sangalang .
“Dito lalabas ang character ng team kung ano talaga,” said Yap, who led the Hotshots with 16 points in a losing cause.
“Kasi sieympre, kung wala si Ian, wala si Ping, kailangang mag-step up na kami lahat.”
Pingris is still on leave with the team following his stint with Gilas Pilipinas during the off season, while Sangalang suffered what was suspected by team doctors as ACL injury.
With the two big men out, the Hotshots hardly played with energy and expectedly were torn to shreds by an inspired Alaska side.
So frustrated coach Tim Cone was with the loss that he immediately left the team dugout shortly after the match.
But Yap credited too, Alaska’s pressure defense which threw Purefoods’ offense in shambles and forced the team into a maze of errors.
The Hotshots finished the game with 24 turnovers.
“Kailangang bumalik sa sistema namin. Ang ganda ng defense nila (Aces). Pine-pressure kami, kaya di namin siguro nara-run yung play namin,” added the two-time league Most Valuable Player.
As if the 20-point blowout at the hands of the Aces was not enough, Purefoods’ next games won’t be a walk in the park.
After Alaska, the team faces San Miguel Beer on Sunday, GlobalPort on Oct. 31, before facing Barangay Ginebra on Nov. 9.
Yap admitted the Hotshots have a big target on their chests, which is why they will have to regroup this early and try to make the necessary adjustments.
“Sana ma-workout namin kahit na anong mangyari. Kung kulang kami, dapat may mag-step up,” he said.
“Lahat ng teams ngayon, kami ang target eh, so kung magre-relax kami, kakainin kami ng buhay. So kailangan magtutulungan kami, kasi tapos na ang Grand Slam, bagong season na ito.”