STAR Hotshots coach Tim Cone admits his team looked 'bored' since winning a first-ever PBA grand slam last season.
Time to call in the 'Energizer bunny.'
With the Hotshots off to another slow start in their defense of the final championship from their Triple Crown last season, Cone has tasked Marc Pingris to reignite the fire in the team before it's too late.
“I’ve been on Ping real hard, trying to get (him) focused and keep going because we live and die with him," said Cone, who has seen his team lose two of its first three games in the season-ending Governors Cup which the Hotshots have won the two previous seasons.
Star, which failed to go deep in the playoffs in both the all-Filipino Philippine Cup and the Commissioner's Cup, debuted this conference with an 89-85 win over a tough NLEX side, before suffering a 91-89 loss to GlobalPort, followed by last Sunday’s 83-81 setback to Meralco.
They Said It!
“Ang challenge sa akin ni coach, maging veteran ako na kausapin lang ng kausapin ang mga teammates ko, na parang ako yung mayor kumbaga sa bilangguan." Purefoods forward Marc Pingris
I know it’s been a struggle (to get the wins) this conference,” said the league's most successful coach. “We feel we can play, but I don’t think we have done that since the grand slam finish.”
That has prompted Cone to call on Pingris, who for so long has provided the energy and hustle for the Hotshots, especially on rhe defensive end.
Pingris has taken the challenge to heart, using the Star's one-week break to motivate teammates and strengthen the team bond by hosting get togethers at home.
“Nung kinausap ako ni coach, gusto niya na hawakan ko 'yung team, na kapag may small problem, ako ang magpo-provide ng energy,” shared Pingris.
“Ang challenge sa akin ni coach, maging veteran ako na kausapin lang ng kausapin ang mga teammates ko, na parang ako yung mayor kumbaga sa bilangguan,” he added.
Given the long break, Pingris said he has invited his teammates to his house in Valle Verde 5, in Pasig for informal gatherings after practice. It was also there where the team watched the recent Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather fight together.
“After ng practice, nagpakain lang ako this week sa bahay, tapos kuwentuhan lang para din maipakita mo na hindi lang kami puro basketball kundi tungkol din naman sa buhay buhay,” he said.
Star will swing back to action this Sunday when it faces a streaking San Miguel Beer side in the main game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.