AFTER a fiery start, a different Magnolia team showed up for the second half of its PBA Commissioner’s Cup game against Barangay Ginebra on Sunday night.
That signaled the beginning of the end for the Hotshots.
For a team which prides itself as among the best on the defensive end in the league today, allowing the Kings to score 32 on them in the third quarter is definitely a no-no and spelled the difference in the Hotshots’ 102-81 loss before a crowd of 12,953 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We had a bad start dun sa third quarter. I think they scored more than 30 points in the third quarter kaya may kaunting problema yung defense namin,” said Victolero, who took a little while longer before emerging from the Magnolia dugout together with his coaching staff. “Nahirapan kaming maka-adjust dun sa depensa kay (Justine) Brownlee, he scored 49 points e. Hindi kami yun.
“Lagi ko namang sinasabi yan na hindi kami mananalo on any team if they scored 100-plus points. We have to limit our opponents under that.”
Brownlee torched the Hotshots for a new career-high 49 points on 6-of-9 shooting from three-point range. He also grabbed a total of 20 rebounds.
Japeth Aguilar complemented him with 18 points including a number of alley-oop plays, while Stanley Pringle and LA Tenorio had 13 and 12, respectively.
The Hotshots behind import James Farr, Mark Barroca, and Ian Sangalang got off to a roaring start that saw them came off the gate with a 10-0 lead.
Then came the second half meltdown.
“Siguro yung transition defense namin nung third,” said Victolero when asked what the Kings did to turn things around.
Magnolia has now lost two in a row after clustering together five straight wins to tumble at fifth place with a 5-4 record.
Despite the skid, Victolero still likes his team’s chances of reaching the quarterfinals.
“Mas gusto ko ito, at least yung chance namin nasa mga kamay pa namin. We don’t want na aasa pa doon sa ibang teams,” he said.
Magnolia can clinch a playoffs berth with a win over Rain or Shine on Wednesday before ending its campaign against league leader TnT Katropa on the final day of the eliminations on July 17.
Victolero said the Hotshots will continue trying to claim a quarterfinals slot.
“Dalawang try kami medyo minalas kami. But hopefully next time,” added the Magnolia coach.