HOW far Star has gone in its progress is set to be known as it squares off against sister squad San Miguel Beer in the resumption of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Easter Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
After starting the conference losing four of their first five games, the Hotshots have suddenly become the league’s hottest team following a string of three straight victories – the latest a 27-point rout of GlobalPort last week.
But the Hotshots face an acid test in the 5:15 p.m. encounter against the Beermen, who have won three of the last four conference championships.
“Dito talaga masusubukan yung team namin ngayon – sa pinakamagaling na team,” Star forward Marc Pingris said. “Dito masusubukan yung defense namin, yung tiwala sa isa’t-isa, kung hanggang saan na kami ngayon.”
The Hotshots are looking to pounce on an SMB side that is expected to miss injured big men June Mar Fajardo and a grieving Arwind Santos.
“Habang wala si June Mar, (kailangan i-take advantage),” Pingris said with a smile, referrring to his buddy, who hurt his knee two weeks ago when he stepped on SMB import Tyler Wilkerson’s foot in their game against Rain or Shine.
Wilkerson shoulders most of the offensive load and Pingris has volunteered to defend the prolific reinforcement.
“Ako, pwede ako,” Pingris said. “Ito naman yung trabaho ko sa PBA since 2004 pa eh. Dito naman ako nakilala eh. Wala naman akong kinakatakutan.
“Pero hindi lang ako – kailangan yung buong team ang dumedepensa, tulong-tulong,” the three-time Defensive Player of the Year was quick to add.
NLEX (3-4) and Blackwater (3-5) seek to bounce back from defeats as they face off in the appetizer of the main event at 3 o’clock.