Smarter, excited Hotshots raring to make Govs’ Cup debut
Chito Victolero swears that his Magnolia crew has gotten over the painful loss they suffered in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals close to two months back, and that they’re ready to move on—at full force with Rafi Reavis deciding to finally get jabbed.
“Yes, definitely, we’ve gotten over that,” Victolero told the Inquirer over the phone on Monday, a few hours after the league released the second week schedule of the Governors’ Cup eliminations showing the Hotshots to debut against Terrafirma on Wednesday, a milestone day for the league with fans allowed back for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out almost two years ago.
“We’ve learned a lot of lessons in that loss [to TNT] and we hope to use all of that [here],” he added.
Victolero still has one of the most formidable local cores in the league with a team built around Paul Lee, Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang, and throwing in import Mike Harris into the mix definitely makes Magnolia one of the teams to watch.
“The locals are doing very well in our preparations,” he said. “We spent two full weeks without practice to be with our families after the Philippine Cup and that helped them a lot. They can’t wait to get back into action.”
Reavis, the veteran slotman whom Victolero describes as a “great leader on and off the floor,” will get his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17 and could be cleared to rejoin the team in practice the following day and play as early as the Hotshots’ Sunday clash with Rain or Shine.
“We talked about it (getting the shot) and I am glad that he saw the wisdom in it,” Victolero said of Reavis. “I told him that he is still a valuable piece in this team and that we need him.”
Harris, who won a Best Import award while with Alaska a few years back, will be suiting up for the Hotshots. And in the times that Victolero has seen his import, he already knows that he’s a perfect fit.
“His skills haven’t diminished at all,” he said of Harris, who guided Alaska to the third-best record in the 2018 Governors’ Cup eliminations before losing to, interestingly enough, Magnolia in the Finals, 4-2. “And his leadership, from what I have seen in practice, is great.
“We are all excited to get back to work,” Victolero said.
The Tropang Giga, meanwhile, are also set to make their debut on Wednesday, colliding with sister squad NLEX. TNT also plays two games in the next five days.
McKenzie Moore, who suited up for the franchise in a stint in the East Asia Super League a couple of years ago, will spearhead the best all-Filipino crew in shooting for a sweep of the league’s 46th Season.
Meralco will also play its first game, facing luckless Blackwater on Thursday.
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