As far as coach Chito Victolero is concerned, Magnolia’s wobbly start in the PBA Philippine Cup was not the result of not trying.
“I can’t question, nor can I say anything, about the effort of my players in the past two games,” said Victolero.
The difference between those two games and Wednesday afternoon’s 80-77 victory over erstwhile unbeaten NorthPort at Mall of Asia Arena was that the Timplados found a way to steady themselves down the stretch.
“[W]e did better executing both ends, especially down the stretch. We had that discipline and character,” Victolero said.
Rome dela Rosa rewarded that execution—and his team’s faith in him despite a frosty performance from the floor—when he hit the game-winning triple with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
“I couldn’t hesitate. I [was] wide open, I couldn’t hesitate there,” said Dela Rosa, after missing seven of his earlier attempts. “I was really frustrated. Thankfully, the coaches were talking to me—they’re like, ‘If you get it, next time shoot it again. Keep shooting.’ I’ve got to give it to them. I’m just glad I made it.”
And Victolero is glad the team nailed this one, if only for the tough stretch the team is currently in as far as schedule is concerned: The tough showdown against the Batang Pier was just the beginning.
“This is just the start for us,” he added. “Friday and Sunday [are] against San Miguel and Ginebra. We’ll have a very, very hard week.”
Calvin Abueva starred with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Paul Lee and Aris Dionisio chipped in 12 each for Magnolia.
Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone, whose wards scored a 90-85 victory over Rain or Shine in the second game, is also wary of their looming matchup against the Timplados.
“[T]hey’ve righted the ship, they’re gonna have confidence coming in … and we would like to keep on going with what we’re doing, keep the momentum going,” Cone said after his team’s second straight win.
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