Which explains why he was so fixated with the idea of going into another long break—and not caring about momentum—even after hammering out a 118-103 victory over Columbian Sunday night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
“I told my players that this should mark the start of our playoffs,” Victolero said, shortly after his charges snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 4-4 that put them in the middle of the 12-team pack.
The Dyip dropped to 4-5.
Now, the defending champions have a 10-day respite to prepare for a hard grind againstPhoenix, and pace-setters TNT and NLEX to end their elimination round campaign where they, without a doubt, will be shooting to finish in the top four.
Victolero doesn’t care about losing momentum anymore, because the days in between the tough loss to Barangay Ginebra on Oct. 20 and Sunday afforded Romeo Travis ample recovery time for his ankle injury, and Jio Jalalon to shake off anxiety from trade rumors.
“He was just at around 60 percent the last game,” Victolero said of his import, who finished with a team-best 28 points. Getting Travis even more rest before that three-game grind will obviously be better for the Hotshots.
“With Jio, we needed that energy of his. He was able to settle down considering the (trade) issues and everything,” he added of his hard-nosed guard, who chipped in 19 points.
Ian Sangalang came off the bench and tossed in 24 points with two more locals finishing in double digits.
Columbian, meanwhile, got 28 points from rookie CJ Perez and 26 from import Khapri Alston. Skipper Rashawn McCarthy added 18 while Juami Tiongson 13 more.
“This game was really a must-win for us, especially coming from a three-game losing streak,” said Victolero. “We really needed to get back on track,” he added.
Three more victories for the Hotshots could give them a shot at gaining a twice-to-beat advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
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