Star coach Jason Webb said the team intends to concentrate on the task at hand rather than think about whether former Best Import Denzel Bowles will still come back to retake his spot at the Hotshots.
Bowles was allowed to return to the United States to attend the wake of a close family member over the weekend.
His spot was eventually taken by former William Jones Cup MVP Ricardo Ratliffe, who had a solid debut to help Star pull off a 96-88 upset against defending champion Tropang TNT on Sunday in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“Pinayagan namin umuwi si D (Bowles’ nickname at Star) and siyempre, ‘di na natin alam pagkatapos ‘nun so we’ll probably look at what we have and see what happens,” Webb told FOX Sports on Monday.
But the rookie coach admitted he was impressed with the 6-8 Ratliffe, who despite having just 1 practice, delivered big numbers of 23 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists in 38 minutes of action.
“Na-limit niya si (TNT import David) Simon,” he said.
Ratliffe, who picked up his 5th foul in the mid-point of the last quarter, helped contain Simon as the latter finished with just 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The wide-bodied Simon came into the game averaging over 30 points per contest.
Overall, Webb believes the team is starting to come together and play better, though he admitted the Hotshots still have a lot of catching up to do.
“We’ll just have to take it 1 game at a time,” explained Webb.
“But I think we really looked good against Ginebra. We just didn’t look good in the first 15 minutes against TNT before playing well defensively from there.”
Star, still mired at the bottom of the standings at 2-4 with Tropang TNT and GlobalPort, returns to action on Saturday against Phoenix.
The Hotshots will have to start racking up victories in order to keep their playoff chances alive. – By Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava