PBA: With one more chance to end SMB dynasty, Magnolia coach Victolero stays positive

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2019 01:00 AM

Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- The Magnolia Hotshots squandered their first chance to dethrone San Miguel Beer as All-Filipino champions on Sunday, as they lost Game 6 of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup finals to the Beermen.

Magnolia entered with momentum following a thrilling victory in Game 5, which saw Mark Barroca sink San Miguel at the buzzer. Unfortunately for the Hotshots, they were unable to build on that triumph. Instead, SMB limited them to just 12 points in the first quarter, and led by as much as 22 points in what turned out to be a 98-86 win.

Thus, the best-of-seven series is now heading to a deciding game on Wednesday.

"So it boils down to one game, a do or die game on Wednesday," said Victolero, whose team knocked down 46.8% of their shots but managed just 3 three-pointers. In contrast, SMB made 14 triples -- five from Chris Ross alone.

"We're still positive," the coach assured.

No team has won back-to-back games so far in the series, with Magnolia taking Games 1, 3 and 5, only for SMB to respond in Games 2, 4 and 6. 

"Alam naman namin na hindi madali eh. The good thing is, the opportunity na binigay sa amin, we will grab it, kahit ano pa yun," said Victolero. "Itong opportunity ngayon, then we have another opportunity on Wednesday."

"Siguro it's a different story naman on Wednesday. We don't know kung ano mangyayari, but we always stay positive," he added.

Victolero has reason to be optimistic: the Hotshots fell behind by 21 points in the second period, but were down by just six heading into the final quarter. He once again got big games from Ian Sangalang and Rafi Reavis, even if both big men were plagued by foul trouble.

Unfortunately for the Hotshots, San Miguel got off to a hot start in the fourth period, as Terrence Romeo nailed a big three-pointer to touch off a 14-1 exchange that gave the Beermen an 82-63 lead. The Hotshots would be unable to threaten again.

"Romeo hit a big shot and then after that, doon nag-start ang run nila. But I love the effort, we're down by 18 or 20 points, na-trim down namin to 6 points," said Victolero. "And we have at least 12 minutes to play."

"Yun lang ang mahirap na medyo malaki ang lamang ng kalaban kasi we have a hard time to catch up. But I love the effort and the energy of the players, especially yung nag-habol kami. And, you know, siguro para sa San Miguel talaga because madami rin silang big shot na na-shoot eh," he acknowledged.

They have another opportunity to end San Miguel's All-Filipino dynasty on Wednesday, and Victolero says it will boil down to who wants it more.

"I think it will be a players' game on Wednesday. Let's enjoy. Enjoy the party on Wednesday, enjoy-in natin ang laro na 'to. Both teams, lahat ng players, grabe," he said. 

"San Miguel side, sa side namin, and I think the fans and the PBA itself will enjoy this game, Game 7."

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