Magnolia sees end of series
Magnolia and Chito Victolero were in exactly the same spot last season.
After learning the ropes the hard way and failing twice against a different foe, Victolero and his Hotshots know precisely what to do and what it would take for them to bundle out the NLEX Road Warriors and make the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
“We experienced it before, so now, we need to have more focus and need to double our efforts and close out this series,” Victolero said after practice for the 7 p.m. game Tuesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We know that NLEX will come out strong and we need to match or surpass that energy and aggressiveness [of the Road Warriors],” he said as he shoots to coach in a title series for the first time in his young career.
Last season, the Hotshots also came into Game 6 holding a similar 3-2 lead over Barangay Ginebra, only for Magnolia to lose the next two games.
“I had the same chance last year, but we lost,” Victolero said.
Magnolia has won three of the last four games and seems to have figured out NLEX during the past week.
But Victolero certainly hit the nail on the head in saying what they need to do, as his Hotshots cannot afford to take things for granted even for a second against an NLEX crew that is seeking to extend its overachieving run here.
Counterpart Yeng Guiao has been very vocal in saying what their true aim in this Final Four is: Take the best-of-seven series the distance and learn in every game they play.
“It will be a toss coin if we get to a Game 7,” Guiao had said. “I will take my chances there.”
Guiao and his Road Warriors weren’t penciled to make it this far in the preseason, especially since NLEX is not the most complete team in the tournament and with Guiao just in his second year calling the shots.
Guiao also acknowledges that even with Magnolia playing without Marc Pingris for the rest of the season, the Hotshots are still the favorites.
“They have a wealth of playoff experience,” Guiao said. “That’s what we don’t have.”
Four-peat-seeking San Miguel Beer, which ousted Barangay Ginebra, would like nothing less than the series go the distance if only to continue cooling their heels after getting dragged into five games by the Gin Kings.
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