Wins fail to sway Victolero opinion: We’re still underdogs | Inquirer Sports

Wins fail to sway Victolero opinion: We’re still underdogs

/ 05:10 AM February 11, 2024

Magnolia Hotshots PBA Finals

Magnolia Hotshots in Game 4 of the PBA Finals. –MARLO CUETO/

Two straight wins that may have turned the tide in its favor has not made Magnolia change its self-proclaimed status before the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup Finals.

“We just tied the series,” coach Chito Victolero said as the Hotshots look to make it three in a row on the San Miguel Beermen and move on the doorstep of capturing the title in Sunday’s 6:15 p.m. match inside Smart Araneta Coliseum.


A stellar defensive work and an improved offensive display have allowed Magnolia to erase San Miguel’s 2-0 lead and turn the championship tussle into a best-of-three affair.


There was a muted celebration inside the Hotshots dugout after taking a 96-85 victory two nights prior, their confidence appearing to be increasing after the vaunted Beermen lineup was checked for the second straight game.

Victolero has no reason to be less satisfied with how Magnolia’s been playing as a collective unit, namely import Tyler Bey, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Rome dela Rosa, Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang, Aris Dionisio and Calvin Abueva.

That despite coming into the series at a disadvantage in terms of depth, with San Miguel having limitless resources from top to bottom, which is why Victolero is still realistic of Magnolia’s tag as the inferior side in this all-San Miguel Corporation encounter.

“I like the effort of the team and we’re doing well both on offense and defense,” said Victolero. “But there’s no advantage for us and we’re still the underdogs in this series.”

Friday’s win may have been the best offensive night for Magnolia in the Finals, even if the stats showed that the Hotshots averaged 92 points in the two wins and 90 in the two defeats.

The other SMC camp, meanwhile, is looking to figure out a way to find cracks in Magnolia’s game plan while also regaining its firepower on offense.


San Miguel breached the century mark in Games 1 and 2, averaging 106 points and shooting 45.3 percent from the field.

But the Beermen’s numbers dipped since, posting 82.5 points, after failing to even hit 90 in both Games 3 and 4, with a shooting percentage of just 35.6.

Import struggles

Perhaps the biggest difference is the struggles of import Bennie Boatwright, the man mainly responsible for San Miguel’s run to the Finals after arriving in December.

After winning all of his previous eight games since donning the Beermen jersey, Boatwright has dropped two in a row and was held to a conference-low 14 points while being defended by Bey.

“They’ve made some great adjustments [in the last two games], but we also need to adjust on our offense,” said Best Player of the Conference CJ Perez. “We can’t make our outside shots and we’re having a hard time setting up Bennie. Those are things that we hope we can address.”

More than addressing their play is also the status of one of their main cogs in June Mar Fajardo, who sat out the final minutes of Game 5 after complaining of pain in his left calf.

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Fajardo, however, insists that he will play through it and see action in Game 5.

TAGS: Magnolia, PBA, San Miguel Beer

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