By Drei Christopher Villanueva
The Star Hotshots have won five games in a row, having beaten their opponents by an average of close to 30 points a game.
With the way things are looking, the Hotshots appeared to be peaking at the right time and ready to run roughshod against any opponent standing in their way.
But for the holdovers of the last team that won the grand slam, taking pride on defense is the main reason why they’ve been successful.
“It goes to show that this team is still capable of winning again,” said guard Justin Melton, who was a rookie when the squad then known as the San Mig Coffee Mixers captured a grand slam under then-head coach Tim Cone.
On Saturday, Melton along with Mark Barroca and rookie guard Jio Jalalon took turns on shackling down promising newcomer Matthew Wright, who, after unloading 17 points in the first half was held down to only two points the rest of the way.
Jalalon, a prototype of Barroca, was just as pleased to share the back court with his more experienced team mate who had been guiding him in terms of making stops and providing energy. “Sa defense talaga nagsisimula. Ang ganda ng depensa namin kaya kami lumalamang,” said Jalalon.
Pingris, the most vocal player in the Star line up, waited for this moment after the team’s dismal showing last season. He believes the team’s consciousness on the defensive end transformed the team this season under new coach Chito Victolero.
“Ibinalik namin hung aggressiveness namin sa depensa. Maraming nangyayaring maganda kapag dumidepensa kami. Ganito rin yung feeling namin noong time namin with Coach Tim Cone,” added Pingris.
Even Lee and Maliksi, who are known more for their offensive firepower, have embraced the team’s defensive concept. According to Lee, “Mas madali sa amin ang basketball kapag dumidepensa kami.”
Maliksi, who has averaged 25 points per game prior to the team’s fifth straight win, was also more active in making stops: “Tinanong ko yung coaching staff kung ano pwede kong gawin para mas matagal ang lalaruin ko. Sinabihan nila ako na dumepensa. Simula noon, kapag mag magaling na shooter sa kalaban ako na dumidepensa. Naging maganda naman resulta sa akin kasi matagal na nilalaro ko sa loob kaya lumalabas rin opensa ko.”
Image source: Inquirer Sports