PBA: Sparingly-used Melton jolts Hotshots’ flatlining playoff bid
PJ Simon was named Best Player of the Game after helping Star get back into the thick of the playoff race following a crucial win over Talk ‘N Text Tuesday night.
But to him, the recognition should’ve been given to his teammate Justin Melton.
“Hindi ko nga alam eh, si Justin talaga dapat yon. Maganda talaga nung ginawa ni Justin (I don’t know why I was awarded the Best Player, I think it should really should be Justin. Justin really did a good job),” said Simon, who scored 15 minutes on 6-of-8 shooting.
“Actually, siya talaga nag-lift up sa amin. Napaka-importante kasi sa amin nung bench kasi yun yung nawawala sa amin (He really was the one who lifted us up. Our bench is really important to us because it’s what’s really missing from us).”
Melton scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and had four rebounds. He also shot nine points in the fourth quarter alone where the Hotshots pulled away after trailing by as much as 12 in the first quarter.
“Justin played great tonight. Just shows the character that he has. He is a really really good player, and given an opportunity he might even be a truly great player in this league and he hasn’t been given that opportunity,” Star head coach Tim Cone said.
The 28-year-old Melton logged his most minutes this conference with a little over 27 minutes after playing just a combined 18 minutes in the Hotshots last two games.
Melton said the lack of playing time doesn’t discourage him nor it’s affecting his confidence.
“I guess, just staying ready. Basketball is a team game, it’s always going to be a team game. So whenever we need people step up, people step up and that goes for everybody – that’s our whole team.
The second-year guard also chose a perfect time to have a game like he did tonight with Star in a must-win to keep its playoff bid going.
The Hotshots appeared down and out after the Texters came out firing to take a 21-9 lead. But Star showed much resolve – the kind of fight it hasn’t been able to display all-conference long until now.
“I think that starts from the coach. It has a lot to do with character. We go as far as coach Tim goes. So big games like this, I think it has a lot to do with character and just how you respond and our team, we’ve always been ready to fight when needed to,” said Melton.
For a loaded team like the Hotshots, having a big game doesn’t assure any player of big minutes the next game. Melton may have played 27 minutes this game but he could end up seeing lesser action the next.
Melton, a professional as he should be, doesn’t mind it at all.
“It’s not really about the minutes for me. I just want to win. As long as we win I don’t care about the minutes. At this point, I don’t care about minutes.”
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