Chito Victolero finds victory in Hotshots’ defeat
MANILA, Philippines–Magnolia coach Chito Victolero missed a golden opportunity to knock loose San Miguel Beer’s chokehold on the PBA Philippine Cup.
But he understands it is far better to have had a shot and lost than to never have that chance at all.
The Beermen won their fifth straight all-Filipino crown after a tense 72-71 victory in Game 7 of their championship series Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum and it is understandable for Victolero and the Hotshots to rue some missed opportunities
“[Falling short] hurts. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” the Magnolia mentor said. “If you’re going to look at our conference, it was magnificent.”
Alex Cabagnot buried the marginal basket but there were still 57 seconds left to burn. And Magnolia squeezed three possessions out of that final minute, thanks to June Mar Fajardo failing to hang on to a corralled rebound and Marcio Lassiter turning the ball over off an inbounds play.
But Ian Sangalang missed a short stab and Jio Jalalon missed the other two attempts, including what looked like an elementary attempt underneath the basket courtesy of a crafty Paul Lee find.
“Jio told me he was fouled, but I don’t know. (The Beermen) also worked hard for this game. June Mar (Fajardo) got 31 rebounds,” Victolero said.
“We had opportunities to win the ballgame. [It all boiled down to the] the breaks of the game,” Victolero said.
True. In fact, the series panned out exactly as Victolero penciled it in their championship blueprint.
“We wanted a fighting chance in the end and that’s what we got. What happened was they were able to shoot the basketball during their possession and we couldn’t,” he added.
The Hotshots pushed the Beermen to Game 7 by kicking off the series with a victory to stay in control until they lost the last two games. In Game 7, Magnolia led by 17 at one point and still had several opportunities to end San Miguel’s dynastic Philippine Cup run.
“God afforded us every opportunity and it all boiled down to one possession,” Victolero said.
The Hotshots can still count this as a victory, if only in the way they showed that they were far from the team that lost four straight to the Beermen in last year’s Finals after drawing first blood.
They found their niche by playing their brand of basketball: Through selfless scoring and equally stingy defense. And looked every inch capable of unseating San Miguel Beer instead of being just another hapless footnote to the Beermen’s reign.
And Victolero relishes what tomorrow may bring.
“My players gave everything in that game,” Victolero said. “But I told them no matter what happened, I still love them all. And I said that we all need to stay together.
“There will be a lot of battles, wars to be fought like this in the near future.”
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