Hotshots look to be third time lucky
Chito Victolero and the Magnolia Hotshots rolled into the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup Finals for the third time in four years last Friday, and the coach who preaches defense more than anything else is hoping that it would be a charm for them this time.
“We’re praying for that,” Victolero said when asked of his chances of winning it all this year as they open the best-of-seven title series against the TNT Tropang Giga starting on Wednesday. “That has been our goal [right from the start].”
The Tropang Giga won out in their battle of attrition with the San Miguel Beermen Sunday night, carving out a 97-79 Game 7 win to close out their side of the Final Four.
Victolero feels that his charges are better primed for the moment compared to their last two attempts. They came so close two years ago, losing the title to San Miguel Beer after Alex Cabagnot drilled a fadeaway jumper to put a pulsating end to Game 7 at the fabled Big Dome.
“I think we’ve matured,” said the Hotshots coach, who added Calvin Abueva in the offseason to gain a valuable two-way weapon.
Victolero has put Abueva at the forefront of a second unit backstopping a seasoned and formidable bunch led by Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Justin Melton, Rafi Reavis and Rome dela Rosa—all of whom went through that unique experience of narrowly missing the Philippine Cup title. “We’ve added new guys like Calvin, Aris Dionisio, Jerrick Ahanmisi [and] Jack Corpuz,” Victolero said.
After adding the pieces he knows could help, and coupled with the bitter lessons of the past, Victolero believes that he has the perfect formula to go all the way this time.
“We’ve generated chemistry, which I think would be a massive factor for us to compete and win the championship,” said Victolero, who already has a championship with the Hotshots, the 2018 Governors’ Cup. INQ
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.