IT didn’t come as a surprise for Jimmy Alapag that Star came to compete and eventually conquered Meralco in their PBA Governors Cup clash Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Lest everyone had forgotten, Alapag mentioned about the winning tradition of the Hotshots, who are actually just two years removed from winning the league’s last grand slam.
Never mind the current struggles of the franchise that had the Hotshots occupying second to the last in the standings.
“I said before the game we couldn’t be fooled by that 1-7 record. That’s still a grand slam champion team,” said Alapag just moments after the lowly Hotshots stunned the Bolts, 104-103, behind the game-winning floater by import Joel Wright.
The win hiked Star’s record to 2-7, but more importantly, kept the team alive in the race for a playoffs berth.
Alapag lamented how the Bolts allowed themselves dug a hole so deep they trailed the Hotshots as many as 87-73 early in the fourth period.
Although the team managed to regain the upperhand, 96-92, behind the torrid three-point shooting of Alapag in the stretch run – scoring four three-pointers – Meralco still left the door open for Star to have a shot of winning it all in the endgame.
“You never put yourself in that situation because when you do, you leave yourself to a heartbreaking finish,” said the former league MVP who finished with 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting from beyond the arc that moved him within just 15 triples of surpassing the great Allan Caidic as the all-time record holder of most three-pointers made.
Alapag though credited the Bolts for their effort to overhaul such a huge deficit in the pivotal fourth.
“Credit because we fought back, but you can’t dig yourself that big a hole against that team,” he said.
Following the loss, the Bolts fell to an even 5-5 record, although they still remain in the running for the top four spot in the quarterfinals.
Meralco will have surprising Mahindra for its final game in the eliminations on Sunday.