Unbeaten Star returns from a long layoff as it guns for its fourth consecutive victory when it takes on Phoenix today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Governor’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Fresh from a 19-day rest since beating San Miguel Beer, 104-98, last August 4, the Hotshots square off with the Fuel Masters at 7 p.m. right after the opening tussle between Blackwater and the winless Alaska at 4:15 p.m.
The Hotshots, the only undefeated team in this conference with a 3-0 win-loss record, conducted a team-building session during the break for the local players to get acquainted with import Malcolm Hill.
Hill is averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds in his two games with the Star.
“The preparation looks pretty good. Our long rest helped us to familiarize more with our import since he only played two games. We just need to keep our mindset tomorrow,” said Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero.
“I believe Phoenix will play its best so we have to be ready,” he added.
Jio Jalalon has returned after a stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the just-concluded International Basketball Federation Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon where the country finished seventh. But Victolero said he is doubtful if Jalalon would be immediately available to play against the Fuel Masters.
Phoenix started well, winning two in a row but lost its next four matches including a sorry 104-107 defeat to Meralco. It dropped to 2-4 in the team standings.
The Fuel Masters paraded a new import against the Bolts in Brandon Brown, who erupted for 38 points. New recruit Jeff Chan also had a solid Phoenix debut with 27 markers.
“We have to sharpen our defensive schemes and stop their transition plays. Brandon Brown have to lead our attack like what Eugene Phelps does,” said Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia.
Phelps injured his foot, forcing the team to tap Brown .
Meanwhile, the Elite eye their franchise-best third straight win against the skidding Aces, who have yet to strike a “W” in their column after four games.
Henry Walker, who once played for Alaska, and Roi Sumang carried Blackwater to a 107-106 slim win over NLEX to improve its record to 2-3.
Walker had 29 points, 15 rebounds and six assists while Sumang tallied a career-high 32 points against the Road Warriors.
“We will give our very best to achieve that first ever three consecutive win-streak for our franchise,” said the Elite’s coach Leo Isaac.
The Aces, meanwhile, are hoping to stop the bleeding, as they have lost their last 12 games dating back last conference.