Blakely: Star Hotshots’ struggles are ‘fixable’
MANILA, Philippines – With 3 wins and 5 losses, last season’s Grand Slam champions Star Hotshots are sitting at 9th place in the standings – right outside of the 2015 PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs.
However, import Marqus Blakely believes the tragedy of missing a ride to the playoffs can be averted.
“It’s something fixable. The hill’s gonna be steep but I have no doubt we can get there,” he said after the Hotshots lost to Rain or Shine, 103-88, dropping the chance to build momentum on back-to-back wins. “It’s gonna be tough but mentally we gotta stick together and it starts at practice.”
The Hotshots can still make it to the playoffs, albeit without much choice for a good seeding. But to have better control of their fate, they must win their remaining 3 games. And to do that, they have to find answers to their troubles.
“At this point, if we lose, the season’s over. Reality’s gonna set in with everybody,” Blakely said. “Each possession counts and every shot we take counts. If this one breaks, then there’s not much room for us to make the playoffs.”
The former PBA Best Import was particularly concerned about the Star’s energy and focus during the game against Rain or Shine. Brilliance was sporadic and they appeared out of touch with the game and each other.
“Our energy wasn’t there when we started the game. Mentally, they got under our skins, I guess you could say,” explained the 26-year old.
“Strong steams don’t let that affect them. Strong teams start the game out strong and finish the game out strong, and defend for 48 minutes. But we took spurts off, we took possessions off. And it showed.”
The Painters had their way defensively against the Hotshots, which had Marc Pingris leading the way with 25 points. But that’s about all they got as Joe Devance and Mark Barroca picked up the rear with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
Blakely, usually relied upon offensively, finished with a conference-worst 13 points and 10 rebounds. He had a conference-low 7 field goal attempts and made just 3 of them to go with 5 turnovers. He missed most of the fourth as the game slipped away.
“Probably because we were down so much. Coach felt I should save my energy for Talk ’N Text,” Blakely answered when asked why he played sparingly in the final frame.
The Star was a favored contender coming into the season-ending conference following a strong semifinal exit against eventual champions Talk ’N Text in the Commissioner’s Cup. They won their first outing but sloped down a 4-game losing slide, which they have not truly recovered from.
“He told us we weren’t ready (against Rain or Shine) and he thought we would be,” Blakely shared what head coach Tim Cone told the team following their 5th defeat. “He thought we would build momentum after winning two games and clearly that wasn’t the case.”
Blakely and his teammates will aim for a powerful start against a likewise slumping Talk ’N Text on Tuesday, June 16. Afterwhich the Star will wrap up eliminations against surprise contenders Barako Bull and lowly Blackwater.
Although the Energy have been erratic their last two games, and while the Elite are in last place with just one win, Blakely feels there is no room to relax. Not at this point.
“Our back is against the wall,” he said. “Now there’s no room for any type of error. Each possession is the biggest possession we’ll have until we get to the playoffs. As long as we are able to get to the playoffs, in the twice-to-beat, it just means we gotta win two games in a row. That’s how we’ll look at it.” – Rappler.com