San Miguel or TNT?
Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero would rather not choose as to who he prefers to face in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Finals, saying that he’ll have to prepare his team for whichever joins them in the Big Dance next week.
The Hotshots have earned the luxury of rest by kicking out Meralco in the semis’ Game Six Friday, but will buckle down to work as soon as they determine their foes after Sunday’s do-or-die between the Beermen and the Tropang Giga.
“Wala kaming pipiliin doon,” he said moments after their 93-85 victory. “San Miguel, deep. Talk ‘N ‘Text, they’re so deep in talent. So, ‘di ka pwede mamili doon.
“Importante lang mapag-readyhan mo kahit sino doon.“
Victolero and Co. actually have the advantage over SMB. Back in the elimination round last September 19, Magnolia dealt their old tormentors a 100-90 defeat. Paul Lee was the biggest star of that night with 32 points.
The same, however, can’t be said against the Tropa. The Hotshots were just one of the top-seeded team’s casualties, as they absorbed a 76-83 loss last September 5 — one of their three losses in the eliminations.
Regardless of who qualifies, though, the champion mentor said that his team will be the underdog in the best-of-seven affair, which could start either Wednesday or Friday next week depending on the league’s plans.
“We’re underdogs. We’ll face a very talented team, kahit sino man doon sa dalawa yung makapasok.
“We need to have a good rest para lang makapag-prepare yung legs and minds namin,” Victolero said.
Ian Sangalang echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“Kahit sino naman ‘yung pumasok doon, mahirap talagang kalaban,” he said. “Kaya nga nandiyan sila sa semis kasi contenders din sila. Gagawin lang namin ‘yung dapat naming gawin and makikita namin yung results sa game.”
Victolero and his wards are simply happy to have been blessed with another chance to vie for a title. It will be the ball club’s third Philippine Cup Finals trip in four seasons, and fourth overall under the 45-year-old’s tutelage.
“We’re very happy lang na nandito kami sa Finals,” said the cager-turned-mentor, who took over the Hotshots’ head coaching reins in 2016.
“We’ll just try to prepare hard kung sino man ‘yung makatapat namin.”