With defensive ace Marc Pingris out and center Ian Sangalang suffering an injury scare, the Purefoods Star Hotshots could be in for an early test of character, superstar James Yap said on Wednesday.
Yap looked to be in top form, scoring 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field, but his Grand Slam champion team was unable to keep their game against Alaska competitive with two of their key frontliners on the sidelines.
“Dito ma-te-test young character ng team. Paano kami maglalaro na wala si Ping and wala si Ian,” Yap said after the game.
For a team that thrives on defense, the Purefoods Star Hotshots looked decidedly average on that end against Alaska as they played without their defensive ace Marc Pingris.
Pingris is taking a short break after a grueling international campaign with the Philippine national men’s basketball team in the offseason and missed the team’s season opener against the Aces.
Alaska head coach Alex Compton said that the absence of the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year was noticeable and his Aces took full advantage.
Before the game, the Alaska Aces watched the Purefoods Star Hotshots receive their championship rings.
After tipoff, Alaska proceeded to lay the smackdown on the winners of last season's Grand Slam, fashioning out a dominant 93-73 victory on Wednesday in the 2015 Philippine Cup on Wednesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
After a hot 7-0 start from Purefoods behind top gun James Yap, Alaska managed to strike back, battling the Hotshots to a 16-all deadlock after the first period.
Meralco may not have a legitimate center but with a scrappy frontline trio of forwards in Cliff Hodge, Reynel Hugnatan and Sean Anthony holding the fort down low, the Bolts believe they can contend against the bigger teams in the PBA.
“It’s not about size for us. For most of us, we switched in multiple positions and we all play hard,” Hodge told InterAksyon.com after their win over Barako Bull on Wednesday.
Hodge proved he could hold his own on the boards, grabbing 16 rebounds on top of 10 points while Hugnatan starred with 28 points – many of those in the paint – and seven rebounds.
First-time head coach Koy Banal admitted that he was anxious in his first game at the helm of Barako Bull, taking the blame for his team's double overtime loss to Meralco on Wednesday.
A longtime assistant in the pro league, Banal said the jitters were natural especially because he only took over the team four days ago.
"Ano magagawa mo sa four days? Iba 'yung nakapag-adjust ka, one month to prepare, one month before the season starts. Meron kang time na mag-adjust e," Banal said.
The Meralco Bolts gifted new coach Norman Black a win in his first game at the helm, but not before surviving a tough Barako Bull squad in double overtime, 112-108, in the 2015 Philippine Cup on Wednesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
"That was a well-earned victory for us today. We really needed to work hard to get that win," said Black, who replaced Ryan Gregorio as Meralco coach.
"It's a good start for us, it's the start we're looking for."
MANILA, Philippines – Prolific scorer Terrence Romeo remains confident that his team GlobalPort can move on from its 96-101 defeat to NLEX as the PBA Philippine Cup continues.
In that game, Romeo scored 33 points, just one point shy of his career high. But his effort went down the drain after Asi Taulava and the rest of the NLEX squad used their experience to beat GlobalPort’s younger lineup.
“Isang game pa lang ‘to pero di kami dapat mawalan ng pag-asa. Dapat mas maging solid kami. ‘Di natatapos ang season namin sa isang game,” Romeo said in the PBA website.