The Purefoods Star Hotshots are in for a tougher challenge when they face back-to-back Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer when the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup resumes today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots, who are coming off a spectacular three-game winning streak will take on the Beermen at 5:15 p.m. while Blackwater will battle Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) at 3 p.m.
Before the Holy Week break, the Star Hotshots routed the GlobalPort Batang Pier 127-100 stretching their winning run to three games for a win-loss record of 4-4. The team is now occupying the No. 6 spot.
“I’m happy we finally got a win streak although it does not get easier,” said Star Hotshots rookie coach Jason Webb. “We are going to play San Miguel Beer tomorrow [today], Alaska in Davao City before we meet Mahindra on April 13.”
Ricardo Ratliffe, who averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds plus 2.5 assists in three games was responsible for the team’s recent three-game winning streak. Ratliffe took over as replacement for Star Hotshots import Denzel Bowles who took a break to mourn the death of a close relative.
“Ricardo has played really well for us, he definitely made this team look good and definitely he is staying,” added Webb. “We are looking better each day and we’re improving. I like our chances now better than we’re 1-4 but nothing certain yet.”
Besides Ratliffe, the Star will be depending on James Yap, Jean Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis, Peter June Simon, Justin Melton, Mark Andy Barroca and Ian Sangalang.
The Beermen beat the Alaska Aces 116-96 in their last game on March 16 to establish a 4-2 win-loss record. San Miguel Beer is just behind the current leading team Meralco (6-2).
Import Tyler Wilkerson is expected to take charge of San Miguel Beer’s offense with Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, Ronald Tubid, Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Gabby Espinas and Jay-R Reyes.
The Beermen are likely to miss the service of Arwind Santos who is still mourning the death of his mother Araceli.
In the other match, NLEX will be aiming for its fourth victory when it faces Blackwater.
The Road Warriors, with a 3-4 win-loss record, are expected to lean on the prowess of import Al Thornton with the support of locals Jonas Villanueva, Mac Cardona, Simon Enciso, Kevin Alas, Sean Anthony and Paul Asi Taulava.
“We’re the worst team when it comes to defense, so we emphasized more on playing good defense against Blackwater. We practiced our defense this Holy Week break and we only rested yesterday [Good Friday],” NLEX coach Boyet Bautista said.
The Elite, on the other hand, are expected to give the Road Warriors a tough time with import Malcolm Rhett, Reil Cervantes, Carlo Lastimosa, JP Erram, Kyle Pascual, Rafi Reyes, Mike Cortez and Bambam Gamalinda leading the charge.
Blackwater holds a 3-5 win-loss record.