Hotshots counting on Mitchell in bid to snap two-game skid
April 21, 2017
SLOWED down by back-to-back losses, Star tries to pick up its derailed campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup as it faces hard-luck Blackwater at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Hotshots will be coming in the 3 p.m. curtain raiser of Petron’s Saturday Special reeling from a 103-97 defeat at the hands of unbeaten league-leader San Miguel on Eastern Sunday. The loss was the second straight for the team after starting their campaign by winning their first four outings in the mid-season conference. Import Tony Mitchell was in personal foul trouble in the two losses, which coach Chito Victolero said the 25-year-old NBA veteran should learn to manage especially since he’ll be matched up against another legitimate NBA player in Greg Smith for the Elite. “Kailangan niya lang to learn from that mistake. Learn from that game,” said Victolero. “Kailangan lang niya mag-improve kasi kailangan namin siya.” Mitchell had 22 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in the game against the Beermen. But Victolero believes it’s just a matter of Mitchell getting his focus back and be the same dominant player again the way he did in the Hotshots’ first four outings. “Kailangan lang natin i-motivate yan. Meron naman eh,” said the Star coach. “Kailangan lang natin kausapin at bigyan pa ng motivation. Positibo lang tayo.” Despite a 1-5 record, Smith is actually doing good for Blackwater by averaging 27.7 points (third among imports) and 21.7 rebounds (second). The absence of a reliable go-to-guy among their locals that is made even worse by the injuries to stars Art dela Cruz and rookie big man Mac Belo has obviously taken its toll to the Elite. Blackwater’s last outing against Meralco was a perfect example. The Elite led the game three-fourths of the way, but failed to hang in the stretch and lost the game, 102-91.