ANTONIO Hester refused to dwell on Magnolia’s miscues in the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals against Meralco that led to a rare early vacation for the perennial title-contending Chicken Timplados Hotshots.
Antonio Hester on quarterfinal loss to Meralco
The Hotshots import had one of those costly errors, committing the turnover late in regulation that led to Aaron Black’s Hail Mary shot and forced overtime where the twice-to-beat Bolts completed the job, 113-107, to advance to the semifinals.
But he’s holding his head up after pouring on a workmanlike effort with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting, 19 boards, two assists, and one steal in a game-high 50 minutes and six seconds of action.
“I can’t have regrets, man,” Hester said. “I went out there and gave it my all. I could say, ‘I wish I did this and this.’ It’s pointless. It would be like I didn’t play. I played my heart out. And unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of the win column.”
“Just got to learn from it and keep going. That’s all,” he added.
Still, there was no doubt the Hotshots got better after bringing in Hester. After going winless in their first three games with Eric McCree, the Hotshots looked for a replacement and found one in the former Terrafirma reinforcement.
Graciously released by the Zamboanga Valientes from their Asean Basketball League stint, Hester led Magnolia to a 7-1 record for the rest of the eliminations.
The Hotshots simply met their match in the Bolts. Both defensive-minded teams finished with the same 7-4 marks, but no thanks to the winner-over-the-other rule, Meralco wound up ahead at fourth seed to take the twice-to-beat edge.
“They’re some tough guys. You got to take your hat off to Meralco,” Hester said. “It’s a great group of guys. I know them pretty well. They played hard. As hard as we could, they played hard as well.”
“Like everybody’s always saying, we’re one of the two evenly matched teams. It’s going to be a dogfight until the end of the game. As you see, we up ten points, twelve points, seven points, it don’t matter, because one team’s going to make that push,” he added.
True enough, the Bolts made a comeback after trailing by seven points with three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a lot of mishaps, mistakes, missed shots, missed calls. It’s a lot of things that play a role in it. But we just have to be better,” Hester said.
And Hester would love to have another go-around with the Hotshots after anchoring the paint this conference in the absence of Ian Sangalang, who has been out due to undisclosed health reasons.
“I really appreciate the Magnolia family for bringing me in. They’ve shown so much love and hopefully I’ll be back and go from there,” the burly American reinforcement said.
“Hopefully I can come back and we’ll just learn how to close out games. Looking forward to the future with Magnolia,” he concluded.