Star Hotshots aim for best in 3-game killer stretch to stay alive

Star’s killer 3-game stretch against playoff-tested squads GlobalPort, San Miguel Beer and Alaska in the next 2 weeks could well determine the Hotshots’ fate for the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup.

Rookie coach Jason Webb said he’s well aware of that. But it is a reality they will just have to face squarely after another slow start in the mid-season conference.

“We’re really going to pay for that slow start,” Webb told FOX Sports after the team’s Tuesday practice.

Read: Ricardo Ratliffe could be a real game-changer for the Star Hotshots

“We’ve put ourselves in that situation, and then we had some missed opportunities. Luckily, we still have a fair chance (of making the playoffs),” he added.

Star registered a 96-88 win against defending champion Tropang TNT behind new import Ricardo Ratliffe’s 23-point-13-rebound effort in his PBA debut.

The former William Jones Cup MVP then, followed that up with 21 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks to spearhead the Hotshots’ 91-75 victory against the fading Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday.

At the moment, Star is bunched from 7th to 10th spot with Blackwater, NLEX and defending champion Tropang TNT at 3-4.

Read: Star brings in ex-Jones Cup MVP Ricardo Ratliffe for grieving Denzel Bowles

With 4 games left on their schedule in the single-round eliminations, Webb feels reaching the 6-win plateau would be good enough to merit a spot in the playoffs.

“I think 6 (wins), you’re good and would allow you to be in the middle (entering the playoffs), and 5 (wins), you’ll have the chance at the bottom 2,” he said.

Under the tournament format, 4 teams will be eliminated with the top 8 advancing to the playoffs.

Webb said GlobalPort may have lost its last 3 games to share the bottom of the standings with Phoenix at 2-4.

Read: What’s ailing the Star Hotshots?

But Webb said the impending return of Fil-Am guard Stanley Pringle from an ankle injury will make the Batang Pier a dangerous squad come Friday.

“With what they showed against Alaska, we’re very, very wary because it’s a team that has made the semis last conference,” explained the freshman PBA coach.

“Ngayon, iba na ang sitwasyon, kasi kung dati nababawasan sila dahil sa injuries, eh baka madagdagan pasila with Stanley,” he added.

New import Shawn Taggart, who replaced Calvin Warner, registered 36 points, 17 rebounds and 2 blocks in GlobalPort’s narrow 103-101 loss to Alaska last Saturday. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava

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