ANTIPOLO – Magnolia is already feeling a sense of urgency after falling to a 0-2 hole in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup, Friday evening.
The Hotshots bowed to TNT through a 93-85 decision and head coach Chito Victolero hopes that they can get their act together before it’s too late, for he’s aware of how quick the season-ending tilt’s turnaround is.
“Not panic, but a sense of urgency siguro,” the champion mentor told reporters moments after the match at the Ynares Center here. “We feel like we have to explain to them na it’s a short conference, kasi mabilis lang.”
Magnolia dropped its opening assignment to Converge, 109-111, just last Sunday, and would see its bounce-back attempt get foiled five nights later.
It’s not to say that that the Hotshots didn’t fight — they actually got to within two points twice after being down 16 early in the final period — but Victolero lamented his wards’ lack of effort and discipline especially in crunch time.
“We played Magnolia Hotshots basketball but ‘yun nga, medyo kulang. We feel that the effort, discipline, kailangan pa naming ma-improve,” he said.
But what the former Coach of the Year would really want to see his wards brush up on is their mental toughness, which he felt they lacked in this skid.
“Mentally, siguro yun ang kailangan namin. Kasi the last two games, yun ang kulang sa’min — the mental aspect. Siguro dala narin nung pagod sometimes. But you know, it’s not an excuse. We have to play 48 minutes,” he said.
That would be important for a side that will figure in a tight schedule moving forward — the Hotshots will face San Miguel this Sunday, before taking on Phoenix Super LPG and Ginebra on February 10 and 12, respectively.
“It’s hard, the sked’s very hard. But we have to dig deep, [to[ have that mental toughness,” he said. “Preparation is very important. Hopefully, magkaroon kami ng chance on Sunday. At least mas maging maganda takbo namin.
“Kasi we faced the top, elite teams in the first three games, ‘yun lang mahirap. But sabi nga nila mas mahirap, mas masarap. But we need to have that sense of urgency, kasi we cannot afford [to be] 0-3. Medyo mahirap ‘di ba.
“There’s a chance, at nangyari na ‘yon samin, pero mahirap eh, mahirap ‘yung nakabaon ka don,” added the former cager turned coach.
And as they gear up for Sunday’s heavyweight affair at the SMART Araneta Coliseum, Victolero and his staff will also sit down and talk to Erik McCree.
The first-time import was far from the one who finished with 38 and 16 against the FiberXers. Though he still had 16 boards against the Tropang Giga, he only scored 12 points on nine shots, and committed eight of their 22 turnovers.
“We just need to talk to him siguro muna. He needs to get aggressive on both ends of the floor,” said Victolero.
“He had 16 rebounds, but he had eight turnovers. We just need to talk to him, communicate with him ano pa yung ia-adjust at ano pa gusto namin sa kanya. Right now we need him, we need him badly,” he continued.
“This is an import-laden conference and 50-percent ng kailangan ng team, nasa import ‘yan eh. So we just need siguro na i-explain to him ‘yung role pa nya, at yung mga pwede pang itulong sa team kasi mahirap ‘yung trabaho nila.”
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.