New champ Magnolia still getting rhythm back as first game of season ends in loss
MANILA, Philippines—Magnolia was mere weeks removed from its title victory in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup when it embarked on the new 2019-2020 PBA Season.
The Hotshots played their first game of the Philippine Cup on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena and suffered an 80-75 overtime loss to a TNT team that has been playing in the first conference since the season opened on Jan. 13.
TNT already had five games under its belt when it faced Magnolia for its sixth game of the season and this early start gave the KaTropa an obvious advantage in terms of conditioning and on-court chemistry.
Magnolia may have lost in its season opener, but head coach Chito Victolero saw positive things in a team that was still carrying a championship hangover.
“It’s natural to have that title hangover but the team had a great mindset today,” said Victolero in Filipino. “It just so happens that we lost via breaks of the game, that’s just it. We played well defensively, but I couldn’t say the same for our offense.”
“You can all see that we really don’t have the timing yet and our defense just bailed us out.”
Magnolia did have a decent defensive game limiting the KaTropa to 33.3 percent shooting, 27-of-81, while shooting 40 percent, 30-of-75, for its part.
The thing that broke the Hotshots, however, was the players’ stamina.
Victolero constantly rotated players every four or five minutes and it didn’t help that Paul Lee, the Best Player of the Conference for the Governors’ Cup, left the game early in the fourth after suffering a swollen right thumb.
“My players got tired faster than that of our opponents,” said Victolero. “I was always changing the players because, well, we really don’t have the stamina yet.”
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