JAMES Yap admitted another slow start to Purefoods’ campaign finally caught up with the team after the Hotshots’ reign as PBA Philippine Cup champions came to an end on Thursday night at the Astrodome.
The 77-65 loss at the hands of the Meralco Bolts not only stopped Purefoods' bid to retain the All-Filipino Cup, but likewise signalled the end of their ambitious drive to win a fifth straight league championship.
And the team’s slow start that saw Purefoods lose its first two outings and three of its first four games obviously had a lot to do with it.
Yap, Purefoods’ resident superstar, said the loss will finally make the Hotshots understand the need to always start every conference on a strong note.
“I’m sure, ma-rerealize na namin na bawal ang slow start,” Yap told reporters moments after the shocking defeat to the Bolts formally eliminated the Hotshots in the season-opening conference.
Purefoods was actually in a similar situation in last year’s Philippine Cup when it found itself down near the cellar with a 1-5 (win-loss) slate halfway through the eliminations.
But somehow, the Hotshots got their acts together just in time to win the championship over Rain or Shine.
But it’s not the same case this season.
Although they managed to make the playoffs, the seventh-seeded Hotshots needed to win twice over No. 6 Meralco to go deeper in the playoffs.
Purefoods coach Tim Cone left in a huff after a brief post-game talk with the team, leaving his players to face the media following the loss.
However, it was obvious to the players what should be done the next time.
“Lessons learned talaga ito na dapat hindi puwedeng slow start parati. May chance pero mahirap ‘yung chance na nangyari sa amin,” said Yap.
The two-time league MVP though still sounded optimistic about the team’s campaign next conference.
“Ganun talaga ang basketball eh. Sayang pero wala kaming magawa. Pero sa tingin ko, dito kami magiging solid kapag nakatikim kami ng ganitong sitwasyon. I’m sure makakabalik kami,” said Yap.