Purefoods getting its 2nd wind
TIM Cone’s second grand slam now history. And so are the struggles of Purefoods Star a conference later after winning the triple crown.
In case people forgot, Cone had similar struggles with his previous team right after winning his first grand slam with Alaska Milk.
“Alaska ended up seventh after winning the grand slam,” said Cone. “But we had another run and won three straight titles.”
After a sub-par All-Filipino campaign in 1997, Alaska then went on to the finals four straight times. It lost the Commissioner’s Cup crown to Gordon’s Gin, but bounced back strong and won the season-ending Governors’ Cup of that year over Purefoods.
In 1998, Alaska went on to win back-to-back titles in the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup and was in fact right on target to win another triple crown until its involvement in the Philippine Centennial team to represent the country in the Asian Games prevented the squad from achieving such a feat.
With Purefoods Star, Cone experienced another one as the latest grand slam champion got eliminated in the quarterfinal round of the Philippine Cup by Meralco.
But in the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup, it seems the hunger and motivation are back at the Hotshots’ camp. Three games into the tournament and the squad has won all of its games so far despite having the smallest import in Marqus Blakely, a former Best Import awardee, who led the franchise to two championships.
The team is hoping it could carry on the energy it displayed the first three games with original import Daniel Orton now reinforcing the squad.
Blakely, who has a winning pedigree once he is playing with Purefoods, vowed to help Orton in every step of the way by pushing him in practice and fast track his familiarity with the complicated triangle offense.
The Hotshots have been winning with PJ Simon, one of the team’s top guns, still on sick bay, and with Ian Sangalang recuperating from an ACL injury. Add to that the slow start being showed by James Yap, the team’s premier star.
But the second unit has delivered and they’ve stepped on to the gas pedal to keep the energy going.
Justin Melton, Mark Barroca, Alex Mallari and Allein Maliksi have complemented Marc Pingris and Blakely in making sure their defensive intensity will be at full display.
Having a defensive mindset, according to Cone, will be the key factor in rediscovering Purefoods’ championship aspirations.
“If we want to get back to the mountain top, it should start on defense,” he added.
From the looks of it, Purefoods Star is motivated to get back to where they were—as the most dominant team the past two seasons. And as long as they remain healthy and playing with boundless energy, getting their second wind back to achieve their status as the best team in the PBA won’t be a far-fetched reality.