Band of brothers | Inquirer Sports

Band of brothers

Victolero: Chemistry key to Magnolia triumph
/ 05:35 AM December 21, 2018

The Magnolia Hotshots celebrate as confetti fills the Ynares Center after their Governors’ Cup triumph. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Romeo Travis helped Magnolia to a hot start. Returning to a venue where he once dropped 50 points, Travis helped the Hotshots to an early 12-0 lead in Game 6 of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.

Then Ian Sangalang got on board. Then Mark Barroca. A bucket after another, the lead swelled. Paul Lee. Jio Jalalon. Everyone chipping in.

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Coach Chito Victolero anchored his hopes for a series clincher on team chemistry, and it was starting to show.

“This has gotta be the best when it comes to chemistry,” he said.

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“We’re almost brothers here. This is one of the most fun I’ve had in terms of camaraderie,” added Victolero, a former pro who has had stops in several franchises. “Even better compared to the ones I had when I was playing.”

Victolero, who took over the coaching reins in 2016, revealed how daunting it felt to coach under the memory of a Grand Slam run.

“The expectations were really high,” he said. The Magnolia franchise completed a triple crown in 2014 under famed mentor Tim Cone. Barroca, PJ Simon, and Rafi Reavis are among the last remnants of that squad.

To meet those expectations, Victolero had to take a long route.

“This all started last year, last season,” he noted. “The times we went to the semifinals and we kept on falling short? I feel like it all started there. We all learned from those campaigns… This has got to be a culmination of all of those moments where we learned.”

“It’s all about the personnel,” he added in Filipino shortly after the Hotshots thwarted the Alaska Aces in Game 6 for their 14th crown overall. “This didn’t happen overnight.”

It took many nights, most of them spent awake and trying to figure out how to get back on top.

“As I’ve been telling them, all of our sacrifice, the sleepless nights, the times we missed our families—they’re all for this moment,” he said.

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TAGS: coach Chito Victolero, Magnolia, PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, romeo travis
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