CHITO Victolero is savoring his first-ever championship as a coach in the PBA after Magnolia captured the Governors’ Cup.
The 43-year-old Victolero said Magnolia’s title run in the Governors’ Cup is one of the best teams - if not the best team he has been a part of, either as coach or player.
Victolero said the team’s chemistry has been second to none, calling the Hotshots a family in this title conquest in the Governors’ Cup.
“Iba ‘yung as a coach,” said Victolero, who prior to the Hotshots coached Mapua in the NCAA and Kia as assistant coach. “Nag-champion ako as a player sa MBA. Iba ‘yung feeling ng coach kasi para kami talagang barkada dito. Ito ‘yung gusto ko sa team, ‘yung chemistry.”
“Halos magkakapatid kami rito. Isa sa pinakamasaya at grabeng samahan even nung player pa ako. Ito ‘yung isa sa mga best teams na nasamahan ko,” Victolero said.
Victolero came aboard in 2016, a season after Jason Webb took over as coach to replace Tim Cone, who led San Mig Coffee to the 2014 Grand Slam. It was also after Victolero’s first season with the Hotshots that Paul Lee was acquired in a trade with Rain or Shine for James Yap.
Victolero said building chemistry was not easy as they used their shared disappointments to nurture a winning program.
Following the grand slam in 2014, the Hotshots only reached as far as the semifinals until this year.
“Hindi overnight ito. Nag-start ito last year pa. Nung pumunta kami sa semis, kinulang kami. ‘Yun ‘yung natututo kami sa lahat. Natalo rin kami sa first conference. Everything na nangyari ngayon, alam na namin kung paano mag-finish ng laro,” said Victolero.
In this year’s Philippine Cup, Magnolia finally reached the finals but bowed to San Miguel. It was just a matter of time for the Hotshots to break the title drought.
“Expectations ng tao, grabe. Ngayon, kahit papaano, naka-recover na ‘yung team. Last championship namin, 2014. I think nasa Kia pa ako nun. It’s all about the personnel. Pinagsama sama lang namin ‘yung mga gusto naming players, and then binuo naming ‘yung chemistry,” Victolero said.
Victolero said the Magnolia run isn’t just all about the players and the head coach, as a lot of people contributed to the Hotshots' crown.
“Hindi lang ako credit dito. Talagang grabe ‘yung suporta ng coaching staff ko. Grabe ‘yung pag-iisip nila. Sila coach Jason (Webb), coach Juno (Sauler), coach Johnny (Abarrientos), coach Mon (Jose), coach Itoy (Esguerra), coach Paul (Sorongon), coach Tony Boy (Espinosa), lahat. Kahit ‘yung management, ‘yung suporta nila, very motivated kami. ‘Yung credit, hindi lang sa akin pati sa players, sa coaches, sa support staff, sa management,” he said.