#PBA2015 Roster Review: The Purefoods Star Hotshots

With the 2014-2015 PBA season’s official rosters released, I found it only logical to look at each line-up and see where each team stands. In this series of posts, I’ll be breaking down each team’s bigs, wings, and floor generals while also looking at what kind of damage they’ll do this season.
Let’s look at roster of the Purefoods Star Hotshots.

Can the Hotshots continue their winning ways in the PBA?

Overall 2013-2014 Record: 41 wins and 30 losses.

Best Finish: Grand slam! The team won all three PBA conferences in 2013-2014.

BIGS: Yousef Taha, Rafi Reavis, Isaac Holstein, Ian Sangalang, Marc Pingris, Ronnie Matias, Don Allado
- Getting rid of the aging Yancy De Ocampo was a great move and acquiring the youthful Yousef Taha has already proven to be inspired as the promising former Mapua big man is currently putting up 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 block a game for the Hotshots. Those numbers are bound to go down once Marc Pingris returns, but having Taha is a good insurance for the bitter taste of Ian Sangalang tearing his ACL. Taha should be the main slotman here, especially as Rafi Reavis is also not as spry as he once was and Isaac Holstein’s development hasn’t been moving as quickly as many had hoped. Ronnie Matias and Don Allado are a pair of veterans who should provide quality spot minutes, but nothing much more than that.

- It’ll be very interesting to see how Pingris responds to a heavier burden up front now that Sangalang is done practically for the entire season. Ping’s health will probably be an intermittent issue throughout the three conferences, too, and he’ll probably be named to the next Gilas squad that will compete in the 2015 FIBA Asia as well. By all intents and purposes, the frontline of Purefoods will be anchored significantly on its star power forward.

It sure looks like Marc Pingris will need to do a
lot more heavy lifting this season.
(image by Paolo Papa/Sports 5)

WINGS: PJ Simon, Alex Mallari, James Yap, Jerwin Gaco, Alleing Maliksi, Joe Devance
- As solid as this team’s frontcourt is, the Hotshots will surely make money because of their wingmen. PJ Simon, James Yap, and Joe Devance are the guys who’ll do the most damage, but the steady improvement of young guys Alex Mallari and Allein Maliksi cannot be overlooked, too. Mallari is a multi-position guy who’s too big for opposing guards and too quick for most forwards. He’s a pretty streaky shooter, too. Maliksi, for his part, is a pretty explosive scorer who has a great balance of size, shooting, and speed. Both are potential stars who give coach Tim Cone great depth at the wings.

- As good as those two are, though, the heavy lifting will definitely come from Simon, Yap, and Devance. Yap doesn’t have the consistency of many other local stars, but he’s not named “Big Game James” for nothing. Simon, meanwhile, is the classic unsung hero who save this team many times last season. As for Devance, well, it’s always a chore trying to stop a 6’7 guy who dribbles like a guard and who’s streaky as hell from downtown. No other team is as deep as Purefoods at the 2 and 3 spots. It’s as simple as that.

James Yap squares for a jumper against Alaska in the team's season opener.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports 5)

Joe devance pulls up against Arwind Santos of SMB.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports 5)

FLOOR GENERALS: Justin Melton, Lester Alvarez, Mark Barroca
- If Mark Barroca were in any other team, he’d probably be scoring around 12-15 points and be playing upwards of 32 minutes a game. But he’s not. He’s on a team where he plays behind PJ Simon, who normally starts at point even if he’s naturally a two-guard. Barroca is the super spark off the bench who is a demon on defense and is a dynamo on offense. Foes are no longer sagging off of him, and they definitely can’t stick too close lest he blows by them with his first step. His numbers won’t really show it, but Barroca is one of the top three PGs in this league right now.

- Melton, meanwhile, will start for almost every other PBA club out there. His combination of speed, athleticism, and shooting is the envy of every coach who wants a top-level point guard. Part of me wants to see him on a team like Barako Bull, which will really give Melton the time of day to show what he can really do, but another part of me also likes him where he is, which is to say making an already deep team all the more dangerous.

Final Word: Hunted
- The cliché, “Hunter becoming the hunted,” will be the catch-phrase for the Hotshots this season. With Pingris tired from playing non-stop ball the past 18 months, Ian Sangalang injured, and other teams re-tooling, coach Cone will have to pull something extra-special out of his bag of tricks to keep maintain his team’s winning ways. They’ve already started 0-2, which is definitely not the most ideal thing, but, hey, remember how badly they started last season (0-3)? If there’s a team that can handle this kind of adversity, it’s Purefoods.

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