The Star Hotshots simply refused to bend or yield in their first matchup with former coach Tim Cone and his new team the Barangay Ginebra Kings.
James Yap and his teammates sprang out strong from the starting blocks and pushed themselves hard throughout in an 86-78 demolition of the Gin Kings in the 2015-16 Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
The Hotshots pummeled the Gin Kings, 37-13, in the opening quarter, led by as many as 31 at 44-13 and cruised safely through to hand Jason Webb his first win as a coach.
A crowd of over 16,000 stood as witness as Webb got the historic triumph.
“It’s kind of weird because this is a game I usually cover (as a TV panelist),” said Webb. “It’s a relief for me, and also, I’m happy for the boys. You see our first two games were games in the biggest stage. The first one because it’s on opening day then the second because it’s the ‘Manila Classico.”
“Then I have nothing against MOA, but walking in pa lang kanina, iba na ang feeling. I’ve been in this coliseum since Dad (Freddie Webb) was still playing. Feeling ko anak talaga ako ng PBA,” he added.
Yap, Marc Pingris, Mark Barroca, PJ Simon, Ian Sangalang, Justin Melton, Alex Mallari and rookie Norbert Torres played heavy minutes and each one put in superb efforts, allowing the team to bounce back from a sorry loss to Rain or Shine on opening day.
Yap sparked their early breakaway, making 16 of his 19 points in the first half.
Pingris, Barroca, Simon, Sangalang, Melton, Mallari and Torres then helped supply the staying power as Star set the pace all the way through.
Pingris hauled down 13 rebounds and got into the Top 20 in the all-time rebounding ladder, jumping past Bong Hawkins at 20th.
Yousef Taha, Rafi Reavis, Ronald Pascual and Allein Maliksi had their share as the Hotshots spoiled Cone’s debut as head coach at Ginebra.
“The players love coach Tim. It’s just that someone has got to lose,” said Webb.
“We don’t know the role we play yet. What we know is that we have to come out everyday with energy. We’re not yet doing a good job sustaining it,” he also said. “On opening game and today, we got to a good start. We have to find a way to get better as the game goes on.”
Webb, a former player with Sta. Lucia Realty, Tanduay and Alaska Milk, credited their great practice Saturday for their remarkable win over Ginebra.
“To be honest, we had terrible practices Thursday and Friday, then we had a great practice (Saturday) – our best since the preseason. I don’t think we could’ve won the game without that,” he said.
Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, the Ginebra Twin Tower, combined for 54 points and 32 rebounds, but didn’t get the needed help from their teammates.
The next biggest scorers after the two behemoths were rookie Scottie Thompson, Nico Salva and Chris Ellis with five points apiece.
Mark Caguioa struggled with a 2-of-8 shooting for four points while LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado went scoreless. (SB)
STAR 86 – Yap 19, Barroca 12, Simon 12, Torres 8, Melton 7, Mallari 6, Pascual 6, Pingris 6, Sangalang 5, Maliksi 3, Reavis 2, Pascual 0, Taha 0.
GINEBRA 78 – Slaughter 28, Aguilar 26, Ellis 5, Salva 5, Thompson 5, Caguioa 4, Brondial 2, Mariano 2, Devance 1, Helterbrand 0, Mercado 0, Tenorio 0.
Quarters: 37-13, 58-38, 71-52, 86-78.