Even though Magnolia bowed to Ginebra in the opening salvo of their 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal series Saturday night, coach Chito Victolero was still pleased with how his Hotshots fought the defending champions.
For Victolero, the mere fact that his wards managed to make it a close game until the end was enough for him.
“Breaks of the game. Very good game. That’s what we want — a close game so we have a chance in the end. But they executed very well in the last two minutes. Yun yung pinakagoal namin so we have a chance dun sa dulo.
“But yun nga medyo maganda execution ni Ginebra. But overall we played very good defense, we need to improve lang siguro yung execution namin on offense,” said the reigning Coach of the Year moments after their 79-85 loss.
Victolero also expressed satisfaction with how new import Rakeem Christmas has delivered in the game. From scoring just eight points versus TNT, the former NBA cager this time finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists.
“Si Christmas at least kahit papano nakakadjust siya ng pakonti-konti,” he said. “Habang tumatagal nakakaadjust na siya sa weather, sa team, sa system. Hopefully, makatsamba kami ng Tuesday para lalong maka-adjust si Christmas.
“He helps us a lot on rebounding, sa paint yung presence niya andun. So malaking tulong sa’min yun especially yung post presence niya, yung depensa niya. Hopefully, on Tuesday mas lalo pa siyang makatulong sa’min on both ends.”
Still, Victolero said that there’s more work to be done for Magnolia. And part of it is devising plans on how to limit Stanley Pringle, who finished with 18 points, including two of Ginebra’s last four points that finished the game.
“Yung game ni Stanley maganda so we need to prepare more dun sa one-on-one or dun sa atake ni Stanley next game.”
The Hotshots are now down 0-1 in the best-of-three series. But this situation isn’t new to them — they were in the same predicament in the 2019 Philippine Cup quarters also against the Gin Kings, but they swept the next two games.
Victolero still hasn’t forgotten that. But he’s not thinking of replicating such feat as he’d want to take a game at a time.
“We’ll take it one game at a time,” said Victolero. “Wala namang nakakaalam kung mauulit o hindi. Just like ngayon we know na kami yung underdog but we’ll try to play hard.
“Hopefully, next game magkaroon kami ng chance.”
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