LOS ANGELES – The Star Hotshots are bringing back the same core that made the PBA semifinals in all three conferences last season.
Mark Barroca was the latest key player to be signed by the team from last year, inking a two-year pact with the only ballclub he has played for in his entire pro career.
Back-up big man Rodney Brondial also agreed to a two-year contract, his first with the Hotshots since being acquired in a trade with Barako Bull two seasons ago.
Terms of the deals, however, were not made available.
Yet to be signed is veteran skipper Rafi Reavis, who is still in the US, according to Star board member Rene Pardo at the tailend of the scheduled PBA board annual planning session that was scrapped at the last minute at the Sofitel Hotel here.
Barroca and Brondial are the latest to be signed by Star to new contracts after Peter June Simon (one year) and rookie Robert Herndon (two years).
All four were part of the team which marched to the semifinals of the Philippine Cup, Commissioner’s Cup, and Governors Cup, respectively, on the rookie season of coach Chito Victolero.
The Hotshots actually had the biggest season turnaround last year with a +20 won games, according to PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
The signing of Barroca, the surprise top vote getter in last year's All-Star balloting, meant the Hotshots will no longer exercise their option to offer rookie pick Thomas Torres a contract.
“Puno na kami sa backcourt. Tsaka mabigat din kasi yung rotation na dadaanan niya,” said Pardo, referring to Star’s deadly backcourt lineup bolstered by Paul Lee, sophomore Jio Jalalon, and Barroca himself.
Pardo said Herndon is the only rookie likely to be signed since the Hotshots have coveted the Fil-Am shooting guard from the time coach Victolero saw him play in the two-day Rookie Combine.
But he added Gwynn Capacio could likely be offered a contract as a practice player.
Pardo also didn’t deny the team’s desire to have a big man like No. 1 overall pick Christian Standhardinger coming on board in an effort to boost the Hotshots’ ageing frontline manned by Reavis and Marc Pingris.
For now, the Hotshots will have to make do again with big men Reavis, Pingris, Brondial, Kyle Pascual, Ian Sangalang, and Aldrech Ramos.