Magnolia looks to protect win streak, roster health
Even coach Chito Victolero wasn’t spared by the rash of injuries that ravaged Magnolia recently.
So in moving forward in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup, Victolero is hoping for just one thing the rest of the way: “We just don’t want injuries. Hopefully by Sunday, I can get my entire team in perfect health.”
But before that day comes, the Hotshots will be clashing with a dangerous NLEX side in the 5:45 p.m. game slated on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City, where Victolero will show up with his left foot in a protective boot after having surgery on Friday last week to repair an Achilles tendon he tore in a pickup game with high school classmates.
Import Nick Rakocevic and Ian Sangalang will be way less than 100 percent, and Rome dela Rosa is still in the hospital, giving the manpower edge to the Road Warriors—who will try to become the first team to deal the Hotshots a loss in this tournament.
Rakocevic figured in a freak accident with teammate Jackson Corpuz last week, but was cleared by team physicians. He got only one practice in, as Victolero made sure that there would be no hitches going into the game.
The 6-foot-10 Sangalang was almost hospitalized because of a bacterial infection. After dengue and COVID-19 were ruled out, Victolero also saw Sangalang at practice on Tuesday.
“I like what I saw in practice [on Tuesday],” Victolero said. “He (Rakocevic) still seemed to be in shape. I just wanted him to practice with the team, even for just a day, so he can regain his rhythm.”
NorthPort vs Blackwater
Leading the way with a 3-0 record, the Hotshots look every inch like a team that’s ready to go all the way. Even at this early stage in the conference.
“There’s still a long way to go,” he said. “But I like how we have performed so far. And like I said, staying healthy will be key.”
NorthPort, meanwhile, and Blackwater clash in the 3 p.m. contest with both coming off contrasting fortunes.
The Bossing are in cloud 9 after humbling San Miguel Beer last week, a win that gave coach Ariel Vanguardia the chance to blast media for questioning their choice of an import.
Batang Pier coach Pido Jarencio agrees that Blackwater has a good reinforcement, and made it known that Cameron Krutwig, who will be coming off a 20-point, 18-rebound, 10-assist effort in a 109-106 win over the Beermen, will be a major concern.
“They have a good import and we definitely have to prevent him from dominating,” Jarencio said. “At the same time, we need to play consistent on both ends.”