CHITO Victolero admitted the Game 3 loss by Magnolia was the turning point of its PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series against Barangay Ginebra.
The Hotshots’ campaign came to an abrupt end on Wednesday as the Kings slammed the door on them, 99-84, and frustrated their bid to reach the finals anew.
Looking back, Victolero said the 103-80 loss in Game 3 turned the tide in Ginebra’s favor.
“Yeah, turning point. They got the momentum. We had the momentum, but they dominated us in Game 3,” said the Magnolia coach.
“Alam mo naman yung series, if you have the momentum, you have to grab it.”
Magnolia indeed, was on a high following a 96-95 win in Game 2 behind the dramatic game-winner of Paul Lee.
Unfortunately, Lee showed flu-like symptoms the next game and suited up for just two minutes in a game the Kings dominated the rest of the way to regain the momentum and a 2-1 series lead.
Lee finally came back healthy for Game 4, but the Kings just proved to be the better team against the Hotshots on this night.
“Ginebra deserved the win. They’re the much better team tonight,” said Victolero.
"Ginebra is a well-coached team. They’re a veteran team. If you’re not ready against them, physically, mentally, and emotionally, you will have a hard time (beating them). So you have to be ready on that aspect of the game, especially mental toughness.”
If there’s any consolation for the Hotshots, it’s their ability to make the semifinals on a consistent basis.
“We’re blessed because out of the 13 teams, we’re in the Final Four and we’re thankful to the Lord about,” said Victolero.
The last time Magnolia missed the semis came in the 2020 Philippine Cup bubble in Clark.
From there, the Hotshots made the semis four straight times, including a Finals stint in the 2021 Philippine Cup at the Bacolor bubble.
But the team should aspire to be better, stressed Victolero.
“We have to get better the next conference to get over the hump,” said the Magnolia coach.