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Hungry Magnolia wants PBA crown

Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero | DAILY TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO

Nothing but the crown.

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero admitted that they are determined to win the title to carry out an important mission assigned to them prior the start of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.

The Hotshots are truly impressive.

After winning nine of their 11 matches in the elimination round, they marched to the quarterfinals oozing with confidence that led to a 109-94 win over the wounded TNT Tropang Giga late Wednesday at the Philsports Arena.

With that, Magnolia emerged as the first team to advance to the best-of-five semifinals against the winner of the quarterfinal battle between Meralco and Phoenix Super LPG.

But Victolero admitted that the mission will not be easy.

“We realized that it’s going to be very hard,” said Victolero, whose wards will have the luxury of having a longer preparation for the semifinals.

“We need to prepare hard for the next series. We thought we haven’t achieved something. We achieved the 50 percent, then we went to the playoffs, so that’s another 25 percent.”

“Now, we’re going to the semis and the objective is to get the next 25 percent, and that is going to the finals. But we need to prepare a day at a time. We want to look at the big picture but stay on the present. We need to be mentally prepared.”

Magnolia is the only team under the San Miguel Corporation umbrella which has yet to win a title in the past five years.

The last time the Hotshots won a crown was in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup while Barangay Ginebra emerged victorious in the 2022 Commissioner’s Cup and San Miguel Beer pocketed the 2022 Philippine Cup title.

The Hotshots, however, came close several times but they couldn’t get the job done.

This time, Victolero feels good about their chances as they are powered by a young, energetic import who can deliver on both ends as well as a healthier roster with enough time to prepare.

“I guess our experience from the past playoff stints that we had will be a big factor, and hopefully, with the help of Tyler (Bey), we can go all the way,” Victolero said, adding that he can see the desire to win in the eyes of his players during practices.

“I told them we have to compete hard in practice and the veterans were able to do that bringing the best out of younger players.”

“Now, we really need to rest and prepare for whichever team we’ll be facing.”

Bey, a 25-year-old do-it-all import, proved to be a great fit for the veteran-laden Hotshots as he averaged 27.6 points and close to 15 rebounds a game in the elimination round.

But it was his activity in the defensive end which the Hotshots appreciate as he had been averaging nearly three steals per game.

In fact, Bey finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and five steals, enough to lift the Hotshots past the shaky — but dangerous — Tropang Giga side in the quarterfinals.

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