STAR showed the team is fine without Tim Cone as the Hotshots frustrated their former coach’s debut with his new team, Barangay Ginebra, 86-78, in an early rivalry match in the PBA Philippine Cup before a sizeable crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots built a huge 31-point lead and knew how to protect it this time after they squandered a cushion that resulted in a loss to Rain or Shine on opening day.
The result thus rewarded rookie coach Jason Webb his first win at the helm since taking over the league’s most successful coach in Cone.
“Relief is the first thing I felt,” Webb said. “But also, I’m just happy for the boys. The first two games were the games in the biggest stage: opening day and Manila Clasico. I’m just happy that we got one of those.”
James Yap sustained his resurgence, firing 19 points, including 16 in the first half where they started to pull away, while Mark Barroca and PJ Simon added 12 markers apiece for the Hotshots.
Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar tallied monster numbers of 28 and 26 points, respectively, in a losing effort, but it was rookie playmaker Scottie Thompson who sparked a Ginebra comeback that just fell short with his heady play.
Eager to avoid going down winless in their first two games, the Hotshots erected a 44-13 cushion early in the second quarter, stunning a crowd of over 16,000 fans who had anticipated a close battle.
The Gin Kings made the game interesting in late in the payoff period, where they came to within eight points as they outscored the Hotshots, 26-15, in the quarter.
STAR 86 – Yap 19, Barroca 12, Simon 12, Torres 8, Melton 7, Mallari 6, Pascual 6, Pingris 6, Sangalang 5, Maliksi 3, Reavis 2, Pascual 0, Taha 0
GINEBRA 78 – Slaughter 28, Aguilar 26, Ellis 5, Salva 5, Thompson 5, Caguioa 4, Brondial 2, Mariano 2, Devance 1, Helterbrand 0, Mercado 0, Tenorio 0
Quarterscores: 37-13, 58-38, 71-52, 86-78