STAR tries to salvage its PBA season as it takes on Alaska in Game Three of the Governors’ Cup semifinals on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots are on the brink of elimination and bidding goodbye to the only jewel left in their grand slam collection, having lost their first two games of the best-of-five series, the latest a 95-74 rout last Friday.
Now the two-time defending champions hope to reprise their big performances in do-or-die games, the most recent the win-or-go-home tests in the quarterfinals against higher seed GlobalPort.
“We always play well when our backs are against the wall,” Hotshots import Marqus Blakely said.
The Hotshots try to walk the talk as they square off against an Aces side brimming with confidence at 5 p.m.
Blakely scored a team-high 19 points, eight boards, three assists, three steals, and two blocks in 42 minutes in Game Two, but could only contribute two points in the final quarter that only hastened their downfall.
But the do-it-all import hopes every single member of the team would step up this time.
“Every time you lose, you think you could do more,” the 26-year-old American forward said. “But what it comes down to, it’s a team game. It’s not about just one person. It’s about five, ten people playing to their best ability.”
What the Hotshots must improve as a team is their rebounding numbers as they lost the battle twice already, hauling down a measly 32 boards, compared to the Aces 49 last Friday.
“We just have to get back to attention to detail and whatever it takes at this point,” Blakely said. “We don’t have another life, so we got to buckle down from the first five minutes.”
For teammate Marc Pingris, it’s about execution on both ends.
“Ibalik lang namin yung disiplina namin,” the Hotshots forward said. “‘Yun na ‘yun. alam na namin lahat: Triangle, depensa. Disiplina lang talaga yung nawawala sa amin.”
The Aces are on the verge of a stunning sweep and a spot in the finals – the second time in three conferences, but coach Alex Compton is reminding his wards not to think way ahead of themselves.
“Work is not finished. We have not won anything,” said the humble American tactician, who has been employing a system where anybody can shine on any given night, with the spotlight falling on Noy Baclao and Ping Exciminiano last time. “It’s going to be another battle.”