MAGNOLIA goes for a finals spot on Wednesday in Game Three against Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots shoot for a sweep of the Gin Kings in their 7 p.m. match-up.
Magnolia gained a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinal series after a 101-97 win over Ginebra on Monday at the Big Dome.
But Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said a sweep is easier said than done as he expects Ginebra to go all out to stay alive in its bid for a three straight Governors’ Cup title.
“’Yan ang pinakamahirap,” said Victolero. “I haven’t experienced ‘yan kasi bago lang ako eh. Hindi ko iniisip ‘yun. Basta one game at a time lang kami.”
What Victolero has experienced is losing a 0-2 lead in the semifinals. In the 2017 Philippine Cup, the then-Star Hotshots had a 2-0 lead, albeit in a best-of-seven series, only to blow that advantage at the expense of Barangay Ginebra in Game Seven.
“We're up 2-0 and talo kami sa series. I still remember that. My players still remember that. ‘Yun ang magiging inspiration namin for this series, na we experienced that before. So we'll try our best na makuha namin ‘yung pangatlong panalo,” said Victolero.
In Game Two, the Kings showed signs of life when they nearly came back from a 12-point deficit late in the game before losing by four points.
“Give credit to all the players. Even if they are tired, we kept on pressuring on defense and executing on offense not only to our import but especially sa guards namin, and Ian (Sangalang) and Rafi (Reavis) doing a good job sa big men ng Ginebra,” Victolero said.
Magnolia import Romeo Travis recognizes the importance of winning Game Three and finshing off Ginebra.
“You just don’t to give them an opportunity to beat you. They are really a good team. If you have a chance to beat them to move on, that’s what we are going to do. We are going to try and close out the series the best way we know how. Just keep playing Hotshots basketball which is team above all.”
“It’s bigger than individuals right now. That’s what I’m trying to get my guys to believe. It’s bigger than an individual. Everyone has a job. Everybody in that room adds value to the room even if you play zero seconds or 48 minutes, you have value to the team. When the guys are getting excited on the bench, the coaches giving us advice on the sideline, even (Marc) Pingris who doesn’t even play gives us advice, tells me what he sees. That’s important. Because each person has value. That’s what I want to the guys to believe in themselves, and just believe in each other.”
“Our new mantra is believe. That’s what we are going to do. Just believe,” Travis said.