Chito Victolero sticks to positives after Finals Game 1 defeat

The top-seeded Magnolia Hotshots came up short in the opening game of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship series on Friday.

After eliminating Phoenix Super LPG last Wednesday, coach Chito Victolero and his team found themselves trailing by 20 points at one point in their 103-95 loss to the San Miguel Beermen.

Victolero identified the second quarter as a key reason for their defeat, noting that SMB dominated on both offense and defense during that period, outscoring them 41-20.

“We lost one quarter, and that quarter was big for us,” said Victolero shortly after the match.

“Yung second quarter, I think we lost by 21, and that’s the only quarter na medyo malaki yung binigay namin. So titignan namin kung ano yung pwedeng adjustments, and what went wrong,” he added.

He also pointed to the quick turnaround from the semifinals to the finals as a contributing factor, saying most of his players did not have adequate time to recover from their four-game series against the Fuel Masters.

“We don’t want to make any excuses, pero of course, we want to rest also. But the third group, I’d like to give credit to the third group. Nagka-chance pa kami kahit papano sa dulo,” he said.

Magnolia’s third group, led by Russel Escoto, Joseph Eriobu, and Aris Dionisio, cut a 94-74 deficit to just two possessions in the closing moments.

”We played very good defense in the second half, I think titignan namin kung anong pwede naming gawin dun,” said Victolero.

The one-time PBA champion mentor disclosed that they had already planned to give their starters some additional rest when they found themselves significantly behind. That is why he commended the performance of their reserves, who answered the call and turned the game into a close contest with less than two minutes remaining.

”We felt that sana, makapagpahinga yung starters kasi yun yung kailangan nila. And then nagkaroon kami ng chance. Yung third group did a very, very good job kasi at least, meron kaming chance,” said Victolero, who brought back his key players during the final minute.

The Hotshots are now fully focused on recuperating and regaining their strength for Game 2, where they will strive to even the series.

“We just need to go through it. Yun talaga eh, wala naman kaming choice,” said Victolero. “But we’re still positive because this is a series, this is not a do-or-die game. Konting adjustments, yung mga mali namin titignan namin,”

Game 2 of the Finals will take place on February 4 at 6:15 PM, still at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

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