MAGNOLIA coach Chito Victolero praised the Hotshots for the fightback against powerhouse San Miguel even without two key players down the stretch of their thrilling PBA Governors Cup showdown on Friday night at the MOA Arena.
The defending champions endured the injury suffered by import Romeo Travis and star guard Paul Lee going home as they still managed to engage the Beermen in a tight finish before going down, 90-89.
Victolero said there’s no excuses for the Hotshots.
“Medyo minalas lang dahil nawala yung import ko nung last four minutes. Tapos yung the best local player nawala rin,” stressed the Magnolia coach. “Kahit papaano I’m proud of my players kasi lumaban sila even without Romeo and Paul, na nagkaroon pa rin kami ng tsansa sa dulo.”
Travis suffered a right ankle injury while Lee lost a front tooth after banging his face hard on the playing floor with three minutes left.
The two both led Magnolia in scoring, with Travis pouring 31 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, while Lee adding 22 on 5-of-7 shooting from downtown.
Despite their absence, the finish still came down to a one possession game, with Mark Barroca missing an 18-foot jumper at the corner.
Those were enough to satisfy Victolero notwithstanding seeing his team end its three-game winning run.
“We have that last shot and good thing kahit papaano, meron kaming chance. And that’s what we want,” said the Magnolia coach.
“Yun naman ang gusto naming, make it close and then we can have a chance sa dulo,” he added. “Elite team yan. It’s a grand slam-seeking team. Ang maganda lang doon kahit papaano na-control namin yung pace.”