THE spotlight may be on the imports in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, but Magnolia coach Chito Victolero is hoping to see his local role players step up for the Hotshots to contend for another championship.
Victolero on Magnolia breakout player candidates
Asked who among his role players he feels are poised for breakout campaigns, Victolero rattled off four names who showed flashes of brilliance in the Philippine Cup in Aris Dionisio, Adrian Wong, James Laput, and Jackson Corpuz.
“I think Aris okay na. Medyo komportable na si Aris,” Victolero said after practice on Wednesday. “And then si AD, medyo yan pa, unti-unti magiging maganda ang laro ni AD.”
“I think si James, he’ll have a breakout game this conference because yung import nga, medyo malaki, so I think magagamit namin siya,” he added of the 6-foot-10 Fil-Aussie big man. “Hopefully Jack will also be consistent this conference.”
Dionisio was second in the Philippine Cup in three-point accuracy with a 46.7-percent clip after making 28 of his 60 attempts. The St. Clare product was also sixth in the team in scoring at 8.2 points in 22.1 minutes.
Wong took turns with Rome dela Rosa as Magnolia’s top perimeter stopper and averaged 4.3 points, two rebounds, and one assist in 20.9 minutes.
Corpuz showed glimpses of efficiency with averages of 4.5 points and 3.2 boards in 13.1 minutes, but has yet to live up to expectations as Marc Pingris’ replacement.
Laput, for his part, was also dependable when called upon after norming 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in 10.7 minutes.
Victolero wants to see consistency from those role players, especially when the injury bug bites the Hotshots core of Ian Sangalang, Calvin Abueva, Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon, and Mark Barroca.
“Ang kailangan namin to get over the hump is we need to be healthy throughout the season,” the Magnolia coach said. “We need at least two to three players na maka-step up kung meron mang mangyaring injury.”
“Another player, which is Nick, na can help us in the paint,” he added, referring to import Nick Rakocevic. “At least may katulong si Ian and other bigs like si Kap (Rafi Reavis) and si James.”