IT may be missing two Gilas Pilipinas rookies, but Star is set to welcome back a former national standout as it takes on Rain or Shine on Saturday when the PBA Commissioner’s Cup goes on the road at the Batangas City Coliseum.
Without Allein Maliksi and Jio Jalalon, the Hotshots get a boost with the return of Alderch Ramos, coach Chito Victolero confirmed in a text message hours before tipoff of the Petron Saturday Special at 5 p.m.
Ramos was absent in the Hotshots’ 96-90 win over Blackwater two Saturdays ago as he rested a broken nose he sustained in the game prior to that against San Miguel Beer. The original Gilas member will wear a protective mask against the Elasto Painters.
Even with Ramos back in harness, the Hotshots are hard-pressed to fill the void left by Maliksi and Jalalon, not to mention Marc Pingris who continues to be sidelined with a hip injury.
“It’s hard for us because they (Maliksi, Jalalon) contribute a lot for us and they are a big part of my rotation, but it’s four our national team so it’s okay,” Victolero said. “We just need to help each other and I talked to my players to step up in the absence of Jio, Allein, and Ping.”
Paul Lee is expected to carry more of the load for the Hotshots, who are searching for their sixth victory in eight games, as the “Leethal Weapon” faces his former team again.
James Yap is set to do the same as he meets a Purefoods franchise where he played his first 12 seasons in the league.
The Elasto Painters are missing one Gilas rookie in Raymond Almazan, leaving most of the job in the paint to import Shawn Taggart, who matches up with the Hotshots’ Tony Mitchell.