Magnolia ready for long series
MANILA, Philippines — Magnolia coach Chito Victolero is bracing for a tough war against TNT in the PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals in Bacolor starting tonight and his approach is to prepare the Hotshots for an extended series even as he’s not losing sight of treating each encounter on a game-to-game basis.
“Mabigat ang labanan,” said Victolero. “TNT has a good lineup, a good coach. Mataas ang respeto namin kay coach Chot (Reyes). Noong nagsimula pa lang ako, I’ve seen kung paano mag-handle ng pressure si coach Chot. Isa lang ang talo nila sa elims pero we’ll try our best to compete, hindi madali. Mahirap sabihin if it will be a short or long series, basta kami prepared to go to Game 7. Same style kami at ‘di nagkakalayo ang aming defensive stats. Ang system namin is based on defense, ganoon din ang TNT. Let’s see how they react to our defense.”
Reyes said he’s not worried about the physicality of Magnolia’s defense and shrugged it off as not a cause for concern. “Magnolia has different schemes, that’s why they’re the top defensive team,” he said. Victolero mentioned it’s more about discipline in execution than physicality that drives the Hotshots’ defense.
Victolero said after failing to qualify for the semis in the last three conferences, Magnolia has turned it around. “One factor is ang pagdating ni Calvin (Abueva),” he said. “With Jack (Corpuz), Aris (Dionisio) and Jerrick (Ahanmisi), we can play 10 to 12 players at ‘di nagbabago ang aggressiveness namin. We’re now more balanced at ang second group can match the energy ng first group. We can play 48 minutes at the same level, same activity. Our team isn’t just Paul (Lee), Ian (Sangalang), Calvin or Mark (Barroca). We’re a core at kung sino man nasa loob ng court, dapat mag step up. Sa Game 6 ng Meralco series, nag-struggle si Paul offensively at nag-foul out si Calvin pero malaki ang contributions nina Rome (de la Rosa) at Justin (Melton). ‘Di lang naman scoring ang basis ng efficiency kasi in Paul’s case, he attracts the defense at he plays defense. Sometimes, may off-night, ganoon ang basketball. Huwag lang sabay-sabay mag off-night lahat kundi talagang talo.”
Playing Rafi Reavis and Sangalang together provides a twin towers combination that can match up with TNT’s Kelly Williams and Poy Erram. “Tingin lang sa mata, nagkakaintindihan sila at alam ang galaw ng isa’t isa kasi seven years na sila magkasama since panahon ni coach Tim Cone,” he said. “Critical sa amin ang rebounds for extra possessions. Sa Meralco series, mga wins namin came pag-controlled ang rebounds.” Abueva’s arrival in the offseason has been a boost, said Victolero, because he plays multiple positions. “Depende sa aming offensive or defensive schemes, pwedeng maglaro si Calvin ng two, three or four,” said Victolero. “Tututukan namin ang matchups at pwede siya kay RR (Pogoy) or Mikey (Williams) or even Jayson (Castro). He gives us balance whether we play big or small.”
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