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Hotshots: Now or never

For the Hotshots, the future is now.

Magnolia remains as the only undefeated team halfway through the Commissioner’s Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association.

With five wins and counting, the Hotshots are looking every bit of a championship contender.

In fact, they have never lost a game dating back 26 July when they swept the PBA On Tour, a preseason tournament that the league organized to keep players sharp while Gilas Pilipinas competes in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 19th Asian Games.

The Hotshots have remained perfect for more than four months, sparking speculations that they are determined to go all the way.

Such a mission has been on the minds of the Hotshots for the past five years, fully knowing that they have to duplicate their title run in the Governors’ Cup in 2018, which is the first and only time that they emerged victorious under head coach Chito Victolero.

Since then, the closest the Hotshots ever got to winning the crown was in the 2019 Philippine Cup.

The core of the Hotshots is already ripe to win another title.

Starting point guard Mark Barroca is already 37 but still has that youthful energy in him while 34-year-old Paul Lee, 31-year-old Ian Sangalang and 35-year-old Calvin Abueva are still impressive despite battling a series of injuries in the past three years.

Two of their defensive cornerstones in Rome Dela Rosa and Jio Jalalon are also past their 30s as well.

Of course, if we’re talking about age, the Hotshots have the oldest player in the PBA in 46-year-old Rafi Reavis.

With this seasoned core, there is no doubt that the Hotshots now need to infuse youthful energy.

Normally, PBA teams infuse young blood through the Annual Rookie Draft. But since the Hotshots didn’t have that luxury in the previous draft, they became creative in getting youthful energy somewhere.

The Hotshots brought in Jed Mendoza and Joseph Eriobu from their 3×3 team while players like Aris Dionisio and Jerric Ahanmisi are developmental players they acquired from the past two editions of the draft.

They also made a series of trades to land James Laput, Abu Tratter and Dave Murrell, who are all starting to get integrated into the system of Victolero.

Then comes the most important piece of the puzzle: Tyler Bey.

Bey, the youngest import in the PBA at 25 years old, brings boundless energy and great attitude that somehow rubbed on the Hotshots in their first five matches.

For the Hotshots, the future is now.

It’s now or never for Magnolia, and Victolero knows that.

Yes, they have already won a title before but they fell short several times. Now, they are facing a golden opportunity to finally win with a combination of veteran players and young stars who could shape their future.

Magnolia doesn’t have a lot of chances left and, as the clock continues to tick, it only has one thing in mind which is to win.

A 16-game winning run. A 5-0 start in the Commissioner’s Cup. Things are definitely looking perfect for the Hotshots.

Hopefully, they are not peaking too soon.

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