Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero swears the perfect 6-0 record of the Hotshots is a big investment as the squad is determined to make a deep run into the playoffs of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
“We’ve experienced before how difficult for us to overcome a bad start in a tournament, so I think having a 6-0 start is a good investment because we intend to put ourselves in a good position for the playoffs, hoping we can make another deep run,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
The Hotshots are the only undefeated team so far in the import-laced conference and is the No.1 defensive squad, holding its opponents to just 85.8 points per game.
Mark Barroca, the second best producer in assists with an average of 5.8 dishes per game, could only agree with his coach’s observation that the team’s sense of urgency to pick up more wins this early is a sign of how hungry this team is.
“I remember during our game against Ginebra (last month) when we were down by 25 points at half time, Coach Chito Victolero was so mad at us because he saw that we were blaming each other,” Barroca said.
But Barroca said that Victorlero himself took the blame “because he didn’t want to see us blaming each other.”
Victolero’s response allowed the Hotshots to overcome a 35-60 deficit at half time and outscore the Gin Kings, 58-31, in the second half to win by two, 93-91, during the first Manila Clasico encounter of the season last 19 November.
Magnolia’s perfect run has now stretched to 17, stretching back to its perfect record in the preseason PBA On Tour.
Given their lofty standing, the Hotshots have now a bigger target on their backs.
“We’re the target of most of the teams. Teams will be more motivated to beat us, but we have to be more aggressive attacking the basket and be more disciplined defensively,” Victolero added.
But are the Hotshots peaking too soon?
“We’re not worried about it (peaking prematurely), but we just want to continue working hard, stay aggressive every game and keep our discipline. We don’t care about the perfect record, but we want to play at the standard that we set every game,” Victolero said.
Now Magnolia is bracing for the next big test ahead and that is facing a San Miguel team that remains rock-solid despite injuries to key players like June Mar Fajardo, Jeron Teng, Kyt Jimenez, Vic Manuel and Terrence Romeo.
Fajardo is nursing a fractured left ring finger while Manuel just underwent surgery on his knee procedure and Jimenez was sidelined by a fractured bone near his eye socket.
Teng is continuously being bothered by a hamstring injury and Romeo has a bruised shin.
Victolero still believes the Beermen will push them to the limit.
“San Miguel is (the All-Filipino) champion team. They’re a very strong team. I think our preparation against them will be very vital because they have a deep rotation and this game will be a good way to measure ourselves,” Victolero added.