A SHORTHANDED Star side seeks to establish its first winning streak of the season when it takes on GlobalPort on Friday in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Without injured Rafi Reavis and suspended Allein Maliksi, the Hotshots hope to follow up their impressive 86-78 win over Barangay Ginebra last Sunday with an encore performance against the Batang Pier at 7 p.m. for a second win in three games.
Alaska, which stunned early favorite Talk ‘N Text, 114-98, last week, tries to gain a share of the lead as it battles Blackwater (0-1) earlier at 4:15 p.m.
After encountering a Ginebra team that draws its biggest strength from big men Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, the Hotshots this time face a guard-loaded Batang Pier, led by Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle along with Joseph Yeo and rookie Roi Sumang.
“They have one of the most explosive backcourts in the league, so I think it’s a test for our guards,” Hotshots coach Jason Webb said.
All eyes, though, will be on Romeo, who has yet to translate his stellar showing in his Gilas Pilipinas debut with his mother club. The rising Batang Pier star was held to just five points on 2-of-8 shooting, although he had seven boards and five assists in their 97-86 loss to San Miguel Beer in Davao last Saturday.
Hotshots playmaker Mark Barroca believes Romeo’s sub-par offensive showing against the Beermen was just a fluke.
“Ang taas ng kumpiyansa niya ngayon tapos bad game siya nung last game, so babawi talaga yan. Titira ng titira yan,” the veteran point guard said. “Dapat hindi kami ma-surprise kung ano ang gagawin niya.”
“Kung may time na mapunta sa akin, gagawin ko lahat ng kailangan gawin sa kanya,” he added.
Allex Mallari, another guard expected to defend Romeo, is wary of the Batang Pier as a unit.
“They’re one of the really good teams up and coming, so I’m sure they’ll be high in the rankings at the end of eliminations,” Mallari said. “We just got to make sure we take care of business.”