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    COLUMN: Magnolia quick to shake off bad taste of loss to Blackwater

    Mar 10, 2022
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    Chito Victolero and the Magnolia Hotshots are the top seeds in the PBA playoffs.
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    CHICAGO - Champagne didn't flow like a river and Kume Willie Marcial didn't make an appearance to deliver a sparkling Governor's Cup.

    But last night's 101-100 victory over Magnolia was a giant deal for Blackwater.

    And as the ritualistic bottled water showers would suggest, the victory cleansed the curse of a 29-game losing streak that spanned several conferences and at least one coaching and team name change.

    "Monkey's off our back. Gives us hope moving forward," Blackwater head coach Ariel Vanguardia told me while the team celebrated the watershed moment with a private team dinner at the Four Seasons Buffet and Hotspot in Cubao.

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      It's been 171 days since Vanguardia was hired to replace Nash Racela and his first win at the helm is the sweetest, redeeming past heartaches of blown leads while weeding out whatever lingering doubts are left regarding his ability to coach in this league.

      It's been 508 days since Blackwater last won a game. At least for now, the clamor for the embattled Sy family to sell the franchise is muted. And the sound you just heard is the collective sigh of relief from the folks in the PBA board.

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      You can't help but be happy for the Blackwater players, especially for JVee Casio, who left the prosperity of Alaska and fell into the austerity rut of these Bossings.

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      But what about Magnolia, what does it feel like to lose to a perennial loser and be associated in history as the team that allowed the Bossings to escape from the clutches of a years long run of futility?

      I asked head coach Chito Victolero exactly that and his reply reminded me of a line from the movie Gone With The Wind where Clark Gable's iconic character, Rhett Butler, told his grief-stricken lover Scarlett O'Hara, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

      APPARENTLY, VICTOLERO HAS BIGGER FISH TO FRY.

      "Ok naman kami. No time to dwell po dun sa talo. Mas madami pa po kami need isipin to prepare sa playoffs. I'm very proud of my team. We finished No. 1 after the elims but we only achieved one-fourth of our goal and the three-fourths will be in the playoffs.

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      "It's not a big issue na natalo kami on our last game because it happens to any other team. The real battle is in the playoffs," coach Chito told me via text message.

      Blackwater, meanwhile, is determined to taste many more Ws in the future and Vanguardia vowed to keep the team's top three picks in the upcoming draft, assets that will help the franchise "get over the hump."

      I'd like to believe coach Ariel but I'm afraid that decision isn't necessarily his to make.

      His employers have shown a history of letting talents slip away, a vicious cycle that put Blackwater in a 29-game hole to begin with.

      But hey, it's their moment, their stage. They can say all they want.

      And we worry about the truth later.

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        HAPPY ENDING. The results of tomorrow's PBA double-header featuring TNT versus NorthPort and Meralco versus Phoenix have more complications than diabetes.

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        Slots in the top four, which carry the carrot of a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, as well as playoffs berth hang in the balance.

        I don't see how TNT can lose to NorthPort, not with Mikey Williams playing like an import and scoring like a maniac with a 20.7 points per game.

        I like Meralco over Phoenix but I gotta admit, the Bolts' inability to protect huge leads scares me, more so that the Super LPG have a one-man demolition expert in Matthew Wright.

        However the ball bounces, it's gonna be one hell of a TGIF for the PBA.

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        Chito Victolero and the Magnolia Hotshots are the top seeds in the PBA playoffs.
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