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PBA: Star eyes semis

Game Today (Smart Araneta)
5 p.m. – Globalport vs Star

Macabre as it sounds, all that is probably left now for the defending champion Star Hotshots to do is fill up the grave.

After dumping Globalport by 53 points last Friday and extinguishing half of the Batang Pier’s twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals, Star seeks to deliver the coup de grace today and move on to the best-of-5 semifinals where a familiar foe awaits.

Gametime is at 5 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, 48 hours after the Hotshots bludgeoned the Batang Pier into submission, 126-65, in what came down as an all-time doomsday playoff record.

So ruthless were the Hotshots that they overwhelmed the Batang Pier in virtually all areas of the game, including 26-0 in fast break points, 32-8 off turnovers and 62-24 from inside the paint.

How they managed to shut down the conference’s fiercest offensive force was such a mystery that Star coach Tim Cone said that he’d “bottle it and sell it to the NBA for a million bucks” if ever he figures out the answer.

He did offer a few defensive possibilities but actually made little sense considering Globalport’s explosive nature and ability to exchange limitless amounts of gunfire with any team in the league.

The riddle therefore of Globalport, which trailed by a whopping 63 at one point, missing 47 of 72 shots, American import Jarid Famous infamously hitting just 5 of 13, Stanley Pringle 2 of 9, Ronjay Buenafe 0 of 4 and Syrian Omar Krayem 1 of 7 will go down as one of the biggest enigmas in PBA playoff history.

And with an unchallenged James Yap resurrecting a never-used weapon in his arsenal – a swooping one-handed dunk thrown down after a few extra steps – the annihilation of Globalport was complete.

For that one game, at least. Now the Batang Pier gets a last shot at redemption – and revenge.

If coach Pido Jarencio could summon them back from where they fell and reignite the fire that sustained them through the elimination, the Batang Pier, who sent the Hotshots stumbling out of twice-to-beat contention on the final day of the elims, could yet have their payback.

Cone will expect as much.

“This is a throwaway game,” he said after their blowout win. “It’s on Sunday where it really begins.”

The Hotshots had the red carpet rolled out for them two days ago, allowing Marqus Blakely free access to 10 of 11 from the field, Mark Barroca 7 of 9, Justin Melton 6 of 9, Alex Mallari 7 of 11 and Yap 5 of 10. Ball movement was unrestricted (24 to 8 assists) and picking off timid passes and wobbly dribbles was a breeze (10 to 1 in steals).

But this afternoon’s sudden death could turn out different, especially with a semifinal date with the top-seeded Alaska Aces, who ousted Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on that same day, on the line.

Globalport has what it takes to bury the inglorious past, and dethroning the Hotshots in a do-or-die situation will wipe the slate clean.

How it intends to make it happen remains the big question however, especially with the Star Hotshots holding all the answers at this point.

Maybe the Batang Pier can kick off things by starting Pringle and Krayem, two of their three-headed monster, and not wait until they get run over like before.

The Hotshots are looking to finish the job. The least Globalport can do is not give them a hand.