MANILA, Philippines — On Friday night, Star returned to their winning ways.
Head coach Chito Victolero said they simply remembered playing well on defense.
But for longtime Hotshots guard Marc Barocca, it’s more than defense. It’s remembering how to have fun on the hardwood.
“Siguro ‘yung enjoyment,” Barocca said when asked about what else the Hotshots brought back to their system. “‘Di na kami nag-eenjoy eh.”
“Noong [past games] ‘yung iba gustong tapusin agad ‘yung serye,” he explained. “‘Di naman mangyayari sa Ginebra ‘yun eh. Siguro ngayon naramdaman ng iba, hindi pala basta-basta pag si coach Tim (Cone) at saka Ginebra. Alam mo naman sila, ‘di ba?”
With the win, the Hotshots made good with Marc Pingris' promise—that they’ll flaunt a different version of themselves.
Perhaps, “different” from the Star team that was distracted, disjointed, and delicate in Games Three and Four.
In Game Five, the Hotshots tuned out the noise. They enjoyed themselves. And it showed.
In that tussle, every Hotshot who took the floor was able to register a basket. They distributed the ball well (20 team assists). And they led by as much as 17 points in the game.
Rafi Reavis was again a key factor, scoring a team-high 17 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Barroca tallied 12 markers, while Rodney Brondial and PJ Simon came off the bench to chip in eight each.
“I don't really care about the points or the stats. The only thing that matters is the W,” Reavis said.
“Sometimes you get a lot of points, sometimes you don't. There's a lot of things I do don't reflect on the statsheet,” the big man said. “However that comes, I'll go with it. As long as we get the win, that's the only thing I'm concerned about.”
“We treated this game na parang do-or-die. Kasi pag nanalo pa (Ginebra), three straight wins na ‘yun eh,” Barroca noted.
“I was just thinking that it was do-or-die,” Reavis chimed in. “If you get into a best-of-three series with a great team like Ginebra—that is led by a great coach—you have to approach that game that way because you have to get every advantage you can get.”
“Nag-collect lang kami kung ano mang mako-collect sa teammates namin,” Barroca offered.
And on Sunday, Star will try to collect the spoils of this grueling semis war. The game tips off 6:30 p.m. at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.