He may sound like a broken record, but Marc Pingris truly believes the recipe to Star’s string of success will always be the defense.
“Our investment will always be our defense,” he said.
And the Hotshots proved that anew in their 78-74 victory over Ginebra in Game 1 of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Thursday to extended their winning run to seven.
Pingris was all over the place, finishing with nine points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks.
But more than the numbers, it was his stabilizing presence on the defensive end that gave Hotshots the energy after a sluggish start.
“We were too earger at first. We couldn’t find our defense so we couldn’t get into our rhythym,” he said, as the Hotshots had to battle back from an early 10-point deficit, 24-14 in the second quarter.
“I just told my teammates that the reason why we’re here is because of our defense, so we have to bring that back. We can’t force our shots because those will come. We have to play defense first before we can play offense.”
Eventually, Star got back in the game, trimming the deficit to just one, 37-38, at halftime before ultimately pulling off the grind-out four-point win.
With the Hotshots holding a 1-0 lead in their best-of-7 semifinals duel against the Gin Kings, Pingris knows that the key in sustaining the team’s run is sticking to coach Chito Victolero’s blueprint.
“That’s our job, to defend. For me, I know that every one of my teammates are defending. That’s the important thing for us.”
Game 2 is on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.