Magnolia coach Chito Victolero believes that it is just a matter of time before they win a title in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Victolero told Daily Tribune that the Hotshots have what it takes to win the title that has been eluding them since the 2018 Governors’ Cup.
Fate has been cruel to the Hotshots.
In fact, since winning the crown in the season-ending conference four years ago, they have made it to the finals twice — first was against San Miguel Beer in the 2019 Philippine Cup and, second, against TNT Tropang Giga in the 2021 Philippine Cup.
They have also made it to the semifinals for the past four conferences, but Victolero and his crew couldn’t nail the title, similar to what happened with the old Purefoods franchise when the star-studded squad of Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codiñera, Nelson Asaytono, Dindo Pumaren and Glenn Capacio won only one title in four runner-up finishes in three years.
Victolero said they may not be as talented as the previous generation but they are ripe and ready to finally win the crown.
“I think we’re ripe to win a championship,” Victolero said in a telephone conversation.
“We have a good mix of veteran players and young talents. We just have to be patient with them.”
The Hotshots have always fallen short.
In the Governors’ Cup, they were making a deep run but import Mike Harris suffered a bad fall in a rebound scramble during their do-or-die encounter against Meralco for the last berth in the best-of-seven finals.
A former Best Import awardee, Harris left the court with eight minutes left and was unable to return, prompting Tony Bishop and the Bolts to wrap up the series and face Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the finals showdown.
This season, the Hotshots also failed to make it to the finals.
They lost to the TNT Tropang Giga in six games of their Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series before bowing to the Kings in four games of their Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal duel.
Unfortunately for Victolero, injuries often hamper their title quest with key players like Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang, Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon facing several health issues.
Even Victolero himself was bitten by the injury bug when he suffered a ruptured Achilles while playing a pick-up game.
“I re-injured my Achilles when I stood up hurriedly in one game during the playoffs,” Victolero said.
“Good thing the operated area remains intact.”
He added that they will march to the upcoming Governors’ Cup with renewed confidence, optimism and fresh hopes over their title quest.
Hopefully, everybody stays healthy.