STAR seeks to find that sense of urgency as it battles Blackwater in a crucial Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup matchup on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots are inside the magic circle of 10, running ninth in the 12-team standings with a 3-7 win-loss record and are already assured of at least playoff for the last quarterfinal spot.
Still, the perennial playoff contenders are in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since the 2010 Commissioner’s Cup after suffering a disappointing 101-83 beating at the hands of Barako Bull last Sunday.
The Hotshots hope to avoid complications and formalize their entry to the playoffs with a victory against the Elite in their final game of the eliminations.
“We need to play together on both ends and have a playoff mentality,” Hotshots coach Jason Webb said on the eve of the 7 p.m. encounter.
The Hotshots failed to display that postseason mindset against the Energy in a game where they were leading entering the final frame only to let Barako not only gain the upper hand but suddenly pull away.
Mark Barroca proved steady, but James Yap and Ian Sangalang disappeared in the payoff period, where they went scoreless after reaching double figures in the first three quarters.
The Hotshots face another tough task in the Elite, who are eager to make the next round for the first time in their young history in the league.
The Elite, just a half-game behind the Hotshots at 2-7, boosted their bid as they did what Star couldn’t – dispatching Barako Bull, 116-92, last Friday.
Carlo Lastimosa has broken out of his shell while Poy Erram has been solid for the Elite, who will overtake the Hotshots if they beat them.
GlobalPort (7-3) and Talk ‘N Text (5-4) look to solidify their places in the middle of the pack as they face off in the curtain-raiser at 4:15 p.m.