JAMES Yap and Peter June Simon could continue to get limited minutes as coach Tim Cone tries to find a way to find the right mix on the floor amid the big leap in the performance of Fil-Am guard Alex Mallari.
After opening the Governors Cup with an 89-85 win over NLEX, the Hotshots have lost their next three games to GlobalPort (91-89), Meralco (83-81) and San Miguel Beer (100-89).
In the course of that slide, Mallari has been one of the few bright spots for the Hotshots, earning the minutes from Cone in the process.
“Alex is doing what I’m asking him to do. He’s playing tremendous defense, handling the ball and guarding the import. So he’s earned his minutes,” Cone told Spin.ph on Tuesday after the team’s practice at the Ronac gym.
The 6-foot-4 Mallari is averaging PBA career-high numbers of 12.0 points, 3.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds in more than 29 minutes of action this conference, thanks to his improved play.
“He’s really turned the corner for us in playing really good basketball. Probably, nobody noticed him because we’re not winning,” said the PBA’s all-time winning coach.
“He’s playing really good basketball. We just need to get everybody aligned behind him.”
The left-handed Mallari’s excellent play this conference led to him getting majority of Simon’s minutes, but the American coach refuses to make a big fuss out of it.
“You only have so many minutes. Alex is playing well so he’s taken up a lot of minutes PJ normally plays,” explained the 57-year-old Cone.
“We’re not trying to choose one over the other. I don’t know what’s working so I’m trying to it figure out.”
The six-foot guard is averaging just 4.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 15 minutes this conference, but Cone stressed that Simon is not the only affected minutes-wise by Mallari's rise.
“James’ minutes are down. Marc’s (Pingris) minutes are down. Joe’s (Devance) minutes are down. We’re searching and trying to figure out,” he said.
Cone can only hope to finally find the right combination - and fast. Star faces Alaska on Wednesday.