It’s championship or nothing for Magnolia.
After going 11-0 in the pre-season, the Hotshots are determined to win the title when the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup opens on 5 November.
Magnolia governor Rene Pardo declared readiness to go all out to finally win a crown since emerging victorious in the Governors’ Cup in 2018.
The Hotshots have the materials to reign supreme in the season-opening conference.
The Hotshots, for one, saw the maturity in the game of young center James Laput as well as the improvement on the health of Ian Sangalang, who struggled last season due to thyroid illness.
Laput and Salangsang will be backed by new acquisitions in Abu Tratter and Dave Murrell while veterans Calvin Abueva, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon are expected to assert their might on both ends of the floor.
Pardo said their impressive performance in the PBA On Tour gives them enough reason to believe that they are headed for a breakout season.
“But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to rest on that 11-0 run,” Pardo said.
“We’re going to shoot for that long-awaited championship. My instruction to the boys was simple: Championship — nothing else.”
But the emergence of local stars wasn’t the only reason for the Hotshots to hope.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said their import in Tyler Bey is also displaying an impressive performance as he provides youth and athleticism to the team that still has 46-year-old forward Rafi Reavis in the lineup.
The 25-year-old Bey played briefly for the Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association and became part of the championship run of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA G League before moving to Israel.
In Israel, the 6-foot-7 Bey emerged as a scoring champion, prompting Victolero to believe that he is the missing link in their championship puzzle.
“He is a guard capable of playing multiple positions all the way to the No. 4 spot,” Victolero said, excited over what the future holds for his team that had been overshadowed by TNT Tropang Giga, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and San Miguel Beer in the past five years.