The Star Hotshots went on a crippling run to start the match, burying the Tropang Texters using solid ball movement and off ball movement to generate easy baskets. The Tropang Texters would eventually make it only a one-point deficit in the fourth, 83-84 before the Star Hotshots sealed the game using simple and effective basketball plays.
“The triangle kind of builds on itself because it’s a read and react. If the defense is taking something away, then we go the other way and create something new,” Cone said.
“The triangle demands that (ball movement and off ball movement). If we don’t have that we are in big trouble. The thing that bothers me is when they give the ball to Denzel, and everybody stops; but as long as we are moving and executing, we will get stuff.”
It was indeed the key for Purefoods in Game 1. Amidst a furious rally from Talk ‘N Text, the team continued to run its offense well.
Here, James Yap makes a strong cut to the basket on the weak side and Denzel Bowles immediately dishes to him for the easy two-pointer. Notice that Ivan Johnson was too concerned with Joe Devance, who is obviously an outside threat, and that gave Yap all the room to shoot an uncontested lay-up.
Options from the pinch post are also very dangerous in a triangle offense, and here, after the initial triangle on the right side of the court, Bowles receives the leather and Alex Mallari makes a solid cut to the basket. Again, no rim protectors for the Tropang Texters with Bowles and Devance drawing the Talk ‘N Text bigs out of the shaded area. Notice that Mark Barroca was also open after a baseline cut.
Here’s another conversion with Yap making a curl; Bowles erases his defender and with Johnson again focusing too much on Bowles, Yap has an open lane and he scored.
“James really moved well without the ball when Denzel had it, and that was the key,” Cone shared after the win. “Bowles couldn’t spot up because he was being double-teamed so we have to cut and move.”
The two plays above were not the only instances where Purefoods attacked Johnson’s defense.
Mark Barroca and Joe Devance ran pick and roll plays in the fourth, after sensing Johnson was too concerned with the penetration and the bigs from the other side. That left Devance wide-open on the right wing and from there it opened several options for the Star Hotshots.
Johnson was very fortunate that Devance did not convert on his outside shots as he gave too much space.
“Hindi talaga siya umaakyat (sa depensa) kaya ang usapan namin (ni Joe) pagbayarin talaga siya. Naka-sag lang siya e, so parang two-man game namin,” Barroca shared. “Instinct na lang yun kasi mature na kami, mga ginagawa namin yun dati pa.”
“We wanted to get (Johnson) moving because he wasn’t really showing so we wanted to force him to play some defense. We will continue doing that to try and open the middle,” Devance added.
Cone later told reporters that it was his players’ decision to run the play and it definitely was a heads-up play on the part of Barroca and Devance.
“Ivan Johnson was guarding Joe, so Mark and Joe ran that play. It wasn’t being called from the bench. It was called by those two guys,” Cone. “Johnson didn’t want to extend out and that gave Mark (a chance) to get to the basket. Johnson didn’t want to get too far from helping on Bowles. It was a good, well-thought play.”
Purefoods once again showed why sticking to a championship-tested system can pay dividends in crucial matches, and with the series looking to be a lengthy one, it is the one thing the Hotshots can rely on.