The do-it-all guard out of Ateneo was at the top of the Hotshots' list of targets entering the 2019 rookie draft, according to Victolero.
Problem was, Magnolia's highest pick in the draft was at No. 10 overall following a season that saw the franchise win its first championship under Victolero.
“No 1 siya (Wong) sa list namin. But I just felt hindi na namin siya aabutan kasi no. 10 noon,” Victolero recalled.
True enough, Wong was grabbed at No. 5 with Rain or Shine.
Magnolia in turn, used its pick at 10th on Aris Dionisio.
Fast forward to 2022, the Elasto Painters opted not to renew Wong after his contract expired last Jan. 31, making him an unrestricted free agent.
The Hotshots saw the opportunity as the perfect time to get Wong on board when he declined a ROS extension, and Victolero didn’t lose any time his target.
“Ngayong nagkaroon ng chance na at least makuha namin siya, hindi ko na pinatagal pa yung paghihintay,” said the champion coach. “Andiyan siya e, and puwede naman naming makuha.”
The entry of Wong certainly infused additional young blood in the team.
Moreover, Victolero stressed Wong’s style is a perfect fit to the Hotshots’ system just like the way he envisioned him when he applied for the 2019 rookie draft.
“Tingin ko bagay siya sa sistema, bagay siya doon sa tinatakbo namin kasi we’re a defensive team,” he said.
“This guy, napanood ko yan sa Ateneo, talagang sinusundan ko yan. He’s very quick, he’s a defensive player, he can shoot [from] outside, he can play multiple positions, a guard that can play 1-2-3 positions, puwede mo talagang asahan.”
But coming to the team with the PBA Governors Cup already underway, Victolero said the Hotshots would slowly break Wong into their system, and would not rush him to contribute right away.
“Yun nga lang middle of the conference nung napunta siya sa amin. So we don’t want to rush him na kailangan niya agad mag-contribute, yun ang pinag-usapan namin,” said the Magnolia coach. “Hindi naman kailangan ganun agad. Importante lang nandito na siya sa amin.”
Wong will have his first game for Magnolia on the first day of the season-ending meet’s resumption on Friday when the league leader faces TNT Tropang Giga in the rematch of the two teams that disputed Philippine Cup title last year.
Magnolia currently sits on top of the standings with a perfect 3-0 slate.
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