The Star Hotshots recovered from a loss against Rain or Shine last week that shattered its confidence, beating the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters 105-93 with bench players finally stepping up.
Head Coach Tim Cone however, still reeling from a “difficult conference”, continues to find for a perfect blend as the Hotshots try to survive elimination.
“We haven’t been showing it much. Our starters and bench have not played well [this conference]. This is one of those games PJ [Simon] and Justin [Melton] had a chance to step up and they did. We are going to need those guys and the starters to all be playing at a high level,” Cone said.
“Hopefully we get piece by piece working together and getting enough to work together so we can have an opportunity to make some noise. We are still reeling. We are not a confident team [in this team] and we are trying to get back ourselves.”
Simon and Melton provided the spark. The former scored 15 points and was a plus-23, while the latter added 16 points in 27 minutes.
“This goes to show how a high-character player [Melton] is. When we struggle like in this conference we just look for combinations. When we see a hot hand, we ride him. Tonight we rode him. PJ [Simon] got hot and we rode him,” Cone quipped of his bench wards.
The Hotshots improved to 4-5, and are set to face Barako Bull and Blackwater towards the homestretch of its Governors’ Cup elimination round.
“It was something we really needed. We needed a bounce back game. More importantly we needed to win to stay in the race for the top 8 and we treated tonight like a Game 7,” Cone added.
“That’s what being a team is all about. We pulled a Golden State Warriors thing tonight. We did not play Mick [Pennisi] and Yousef [Taha] tonight and gave little minutes to Rafi [Reavis] liking pulling out [Andrew] Bogut off the floor to go a little bit small and match their speed.”
Cone stuck with a small lineup with only Marqus Blakely, Joe Devance, and Mark Pingris getting major minutes in the frontcourt.
Still hanging on for dear life, the Hotshots thinks the win over the Tropang Texters is a “big step,” although Cone is wary the team holds their fate.
“We still got a tough road ahead of us. Hopefully we can get ourselves in a good or decent position because we don’t want to be matched against San Miguel or Alaska because they would be hard to beat twice,” he said.
“We cannot point fingers anywhere. We are our own worst enemies right now. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us so we will just try to battle from here.”
Photo courtesy of PBA Images