The PBA Press Corps will hail a new Coach of the Year winner during the 25th anniversary presentation of its Annual Awards Night on Monday at the Novotel Manila Araneta Center.
Chito Victolero of Magnolia will be the recipient of the coveted Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan trophy from the group of sportswriters who regularly cover the PBA beat, following his work with the Hotshots last year that culminated in a championship in the season-ending Governors’ Cup.
The 43-year-old Victolero of Sta. Maria, Bulacan beat out Barangay Ginebra counterpart Tim Cone and San Miguel Beer’s Leo Austria – winner of the award the past three seasons – in a tight, three-way fight for the individual honor that serves as the highlight of the special two-hour event presented by Cignal TV.
All three coaches won a championship each last year, but Victolero’s Magnolia roster are clearly the least superior of the three ballclubs under the umbrella of the San Miguel Corporation.
Only in his second year at the helm of the Hotshots, the title is Victolero’s first in his PBA coaching career. He broke the Hotshots’ four-year championship drought following their grand slam season in 2014.
On the way to the top, the fourth-seeded Hotshots toppled the top-seeded and two-time defending champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the semifinals. They then overcame Best Import Mike Harris and the third-seeded Aces in the finals.
During the Philippine Cup, Victolero finally made it past the semifinals after three straight Final Four trips the previous season. But the Hotshots battled and lost to the powerhouse Beermen in the finals, as the Hotshots made do with a depleted roster.
Aside from Austria, Cone was also a Coach of the Year awardee in the past along with Chot Reyes, the only five-time winner; Yeng Guiao, Jong Uichico, Ryan Gregorio, Derick Pumaren, Perry Ronquillo, Boyet Fernandez, Siot Tanquingcen, Luigi Trillo, and the late Ron Jacobs.
Victolero shares the limelight with other awardees in the January 21 affair that includes Danny Floro Executive of the Year winner Alfrancis Chua; the entire PBA Board as choice for the President’s Award; and Alaska team owner Wilfred S. Uytengsu as the first-ever recipient of the PBAPC’s Lifetime Achievement Award in celebration of its silver anniversary.
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