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After missing out on playing for Victolero in Mapua, Saitanan gets chance in Magnolia

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Tiebreaker Times After missing out on playing for Victolero in Mapua, Saitanan gets chance in Magnolia Basketball News PBA  PBA Transactions PBA Season 45 Magnolia Hotshots Jessie Saitanan 2020 PBA Philippine Cup

Jessie Saitanan cannot feel more elated now that he has realized his dream of playing for Magnolia. 

The 6-foot-5 bruiser will no longer be a mere practice player, as he has recently signed a one-year contract to the Hotshots, adding more depth to an already-potent frontline.

“Sobrang saya kasi hinintay ko rin talaga ‘yung time na ‘yun eh, na makasama ako sa lineup nila,” said Saitanan.

Saitanan joined the Hotshots as a practice player after his stint with TNT KaTropa in 2018. He then sought permission to the team last year to play in Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.

Now, he sees himself back in the PBA following his stint with Bacolod-Master Sardines in the regional pro league, and he is immensely grateful for Magnolia for paving the way for his return.

“Nagpapasalamat talaga ako kinuha nila ako, pinabalik nila ako, binigyan nila ako ng chance para makapaglaro sa kanila,” said the third-round pick of the Meralco Bolts in the 2016 Rookie Draft.

And his return has also enabled a reunion with someone he knows from way back: coach Chito Victolero.

Saitanan shared that it was Victolero who recruited him to play for Mapua in 2011, but they weren’t able to work together as the latter had already resigned when he cracked the main lineup.

Victolero resigned from his post as the Cardinals’ chief tactician in 2012, ending his four-year stay with the team.

Nag-college ako sa Mapua pero coach ko na nun si coach Atoy [Co] eh. Pero ang talagang nag-recruit sa ‘kin, si coach Chito,” said Saitanan, a many-time PBA D-League campaigner.

“Nung college kasi, after niya ako ma-recruit, nung na-lineup ako, si coach Atoy na ‘yung naging coach ko. Medyo nagka-salisi kami. Pero hanggang ngayon naman, close kami.”

Saitanan feels very excited now that he has the chance to finally play for Victolero, who led the Hotshots to the 2018 Governors’ Cup title, which made him that season’s Coach of the Year.

“Masaya kasi magkasama ulit kami. Tsaka alam niya kung paano ako gagamitin, kung ano maitutulong ko.”

What also excites Saitanan is the opportunity to play alongside — and of course, pick the brains of — two of the league’s most decorated big men in Marc Pingris and Rafi Reavis.

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“Dati talagang hinahangaan ko lang sila, napapanood ko sila. Ngayon excited ako, makakasama ko sila. Dati sa Talk N Text sina kuya Harvey [Carey], ngayon sina kuya Rafi naman at si kuya Ping,” he said.

“Papasalamat din ako sa kanila kasi welcome ako sa kanila nung dumating ako sa practice.

“Si kuya Ping tinuturuan ako kung anong dapat gawin. Si kuya Rafi, nung nagpunta siya ng practice kinausap niya ‘ko, masaya raw siya na nakabalik ako. Napakasaya ko,” Saitanan added.

Now, Saitanan vows to fulfill whatever role he will be given as he embarks on a new journey with Magnolia.

“Kung ano ipatrabaho sa ‘kin ni coach, ‘yun ang gagawin ko. Kung depensa, depensa lang. Bonus lang talaga ‘yung mga score kasi ‘yun lang talaga ano ko eh, dumipensa.”

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