SMART CLARK GIGA CITY — Three weeks ago, Magnolia was in a tough spot in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup after absorbing its fourth loss in five games with a late meltdown versus Phoenix Super LPG.
Three weeks since, the Hotshots are quarterfinals-bound as the hottest team with six consecutive wins — the longest winning streak inside the bubble mounted at the former U.S. military base.
Because of that, head coach Chito Victolero is unconcerned whether his team will finish seventh or eighth entering the next round, even if it puts them in a twice-to-win disadvantage.
Should they fall to no. 8, the Hotshots will face the top-seeded Barangay Ginebra, who are among the favorites to win it all this conference.
“Three weeks ago wala kami sa sitwasyon na ‘to, and nabigyan kami ng chance,” he said moments after their 95-80 win over Blackwater on Wednesday, which concluded their elimination round campaign.
Entering the quarters as one of the last two seeds is a tall order for the runners-up of the last two all-Filipino meets. But for the 2018 Coach of the Year, it is more important that they have that chance to compete.
“Blessed pa rin kami. ‘Yung apat na teams, wala na dito. Na-out na. And then walo na lang ang natira. Blessed talaga kami. Anong posisyon ka? 1 or 8 ka, ang importante dito is you still have a chance,” he said.
Victolero pointed out that this is situation is nothing new for Magnolia. In last season’s Philippine Cup, they entered the quarterfinals as the sixth seed but went all the way to the Finals.
Interestingly, the team which the Hotshots beat in the quarters was the Gin Kings, who were no. 3 at that time.
“Kasi ‘yun ‘yung laging tinignan namin, ‘yung opportunity to go again to the next level. We experienced it a lot before, a few years ago, a season ago, na talagang galing kami sa bottom, 6 or 7. But we grind out,” he said.
“‘Yun naman mga players ko eh. Kung saan kami makarating. I’m very proud of my players for what they achieved here in the bubble.”