STAR seeks to sustain its rise in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as it looks to pounce on a struggling, shorthanded GlobalPort side on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Once stuck at the bottom of the pile after losing four of their first five games, the Hotshots have climbed to the middle of the pack after winning back-to-back games for the first time under coach Jason Webb, who, however, is reminding his wards not to get ahead of themselves.
“We’re still three and four,” the rookie mentor said in a chat with SPIN.ph on Thursday after practice. “We don’t want to get too high on it. It’s just nice to see the camaraderie of the team as well as the team getting together on both ends of the floor.”
“The winning streak just gives us an opportunity to get into a good flow of what we’re doing, allows us to take a little bit of pressure away, and allows us to build momentum,” he added. “And when you get wins in succession, parang mas dinadapuan ka ng swerte, ’di ba?”
The Hotshots’ resolute defense has been the key to their recent success. After allowing teams to 97.2 points in the first five games, Star has limited opponents to just 81.5 points in their last game outings, highlighted by holding Phoenix to just 75 points in their game last Saturday.
“We’re hoping that we’re starting to get our identity especially on the defensive end and hopefully we can continue being solid on that end of the floor,” Webb said.
The Hotshots face a Batang Pier side that has replaced them at the cellar, hoping to arrest a four-game skid to improve its 2-5 win-loss record, although they will still miss dynamic duo Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle owing to injuries.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. in a matchup preceded by Meralco (5-2) aiming to also stop a two-game losing streak and taking on Blackwater (3-4) at 4:15 p.m.
Ricardo Ratliffe has been solid for the Hotshots in the last two games, tallying 21 points, 17 boards, one block, and one assist in 29 foul-plagued minutes against the Fuel Masters.
The 6-foot-8 slotman matches up with fellow replacement import Shawn Taggart, who posted a solid debut with 36 points, 16 boards, three assists, and two blocks, against seven turnovers in 40 minutes in a loss to Alaska last Saturday.