Victolero on Magnola’s finals loss: We gave it our all
It could’ve been a Cinderella story, but Magnolia just didn’t have enough to get a happy ending.
The Hotshots had San Miguel backed into a corner for three quarters, but they couldn’t pull off an underdog miracle against the rampaging defending champions, who showed tremendous heart and poise in Game 5 of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Magnolia led by as much as 23 and held a 74-60 lead heading into the fourth quarter before the four-peat seeking Beermen unleashed a maelstrom no magical wisp can stop.
San Miguel finished off the hard-fighting Hotshots, 108-99, after two overtimes in a game that brought out the best in Victolero and the respect from San Miguel’s multi-titled coach Leo Austria.
“As a coach, I can’t wish for anything more,” said Victolero after the Game 5 loss at Mall of Asia Arena. “We talked that we would all give our hundred percent, but I know we exceeded that and I know there’s no such thing as 101% but there it was.”
The Beermen and the Hotshots pounded it out in the fourth quarter in the first extra time, before June Mar Fajardo and company found a second wind and outscoredy the Hotshots, 14-5, in the final five minutes.
Victolero is also a first-timer in a Finals series, and to lead an undermanned team against the mighty Beermen was something Austria had to commend.
“I have to give credit to coach Chito because they had a good game plan,” said Austria. “His entire coaching staff, I also have to congratulate them and I knew from the start they would be a contender.”
Austria’s team first held the lead after Arwind Santos’ opening basket, 2-0, and only took it back in the second overtime when June Mar Fajardo gave them a 96-94 buffer.
“They gave it all, and there’s nothing to be ashamed off,” said Austria of the Hotshots.
Victolero’s team in the finals had no Marc Pingris and Justin Melton, two players who both have championship experience after helping the then San Mig Coffee Mixers to the 2014 Grand Slam.
Although Victolero never used his team’s injuries as an excuse, that was the reality that he was dealt with.
“I’m very proud of my players because they moved on [from Pingris and Melton’s injuries] and everybody stepped up,” said Victolero. “We entered the finals, played a very good team in SMB but because of our lack of experience, we couldn’t make it through.”
Victolero, accepting the fact that they lost, had nothing to do but hope that their fairy tale will have another chapter in the next conferences.
“Hopefully we can get back to this level in the next conference, we will just work hard to achieve our goal,” added Victolero.
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