Had Star won, these would have been the reasons why
Mark Barroca was 2 assists shy of a triple-double. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
If you were fortunate to watch last night's Game 3 of the best-of-5 semifinal series between the Star Hotshots and the Finals-bound Meralco Bolts, then you can just imagine the feeling of regret that Star Hotshots Coach Chito Victolero is feeling right now.
Let's just put it this way: the Hotshots were down double digits on multiple occasions. They were able to get back into the game and even take the lead in the 4th quarter. They were just 1 defensive stop away from extending this series to a Game 4 but the Bolts were able to score right back and the moment the extra period began, that was when the Hotshots began to falter as the Bolts held Star scoreless for almost 4 minutes in the extra period and by time the Hotshots managed to score, time was no longer on their side.
And mind you, folks, Star almost won without Paul Lee and with Kris Acox only producing 4 points during the entire game. Given how close the final score was, Star fans can only say, "Sayang!"
The "SAYANG" Numbers:
If anything, we can only appreciate the defensive efforts of the Hotshots for making life difficult for the Bolts. They made Meralco bleed it out unlike in the first two games of the series where Meralco had a double-digit lead by endgame. Those 8 steals were proof that if Star had played D the way they did last night during the first two games, the series would have had a different look by now. Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon had 3 each of those 8 steals
12 Second Chance Points
This was probably one of the biggest advantages Star had against the Bolts all night long. They outmuscled the Meralco rebounders to grab offensive boards and score 12 points off their own misses. In fact, if Star managed to score in one of those offensive rebounds during the dying seconds of regulation, they would have won the game.
Mark Barroca's 21 Points
Perhaps the only one who deserves to feel bad was Mark Barroca. Why? 21 points. 12 rebounds including 4 on the offensive end. 8 assists. 3 steals. A block. This is the Mark Barroca that we always know after all those years. Sure, he missed 15 of his 22 shots just to produce 21 points but what can he do? His teammates were missing. Their import's performance was miserable. Paul Lee was absent, for good. After last night's performance, can we all agree that Mark Barroca deserves our praise, right?
As painful as it is to hear especially for Star fans, they are done for the season, unfortunately. But this latest semifinal exit, their 3rd this season, can only make them better as they will use this setback to motivate themselves and hopefully, improve come next season.