Victolero shrugs off 'cheap shots' claim, rules out injured Melton from rest of SMB-Magnolia finale
Physicality is far from Chito Victolero's concerns as Magnolia lost another key player in Justin Melton to injury for the rest of the Philippine Cup Finals. Jerome Ascano

MAGNOLIA coach Chito Victolero played down the growing physicality that has heated up the PBA Philippine Cup Finals that’s knotted at one game apiece.

San Miguel Beer star Chris Ross believes the Hotshots – or one particular player – has resorted to “cheap shots” that have marred the best-of-seven series, more so in SMB’s 92-77 Game Two victory last Sunday.

But Victolero insisted the physicality has been nothing but normal for a matchup of this magnitude.

“I think wala naman (grabeng physicality),” Victolero insisted in a short chat with SPIN.ph after practice on Wednesday. “That’s part of the game. This is the finals, this is the championship, so mas madami pa sigurong physicality before.”

“Sabi ko nga, wala naman kaming binabago sa depensa namin; ngayon pa ba kami magbabago kung kailan finals?” he added. “So wala naman kaming babaguhin. Yung physical naman, nandyan lang yan lagi, hindi mawawala yan.”

Victolero believes the physicality has more or less been the same since the two semifinal series between Magnolia and NLEX, and SMB and Ginebra.

“Napanood mo naman yung NLEX namin, napanood rin naman yung Ginebra and San Miguel, so halos parehas lang yung physicality,” Victolero said.

While Ross feels the physicality has been growing, the Hotshots’ rotation has continued to decrease as Justin Melton is out for the rest of the series due to a hamstring injury he sustained in the semifinals and aggravated in Game One of the title series.  

“Four weeks yun (recovery nung) kanya eh,” Victolero said of Melton, who sat on the sidelines in Game Two as he joined Marc Pingris on the injured list.

The healthy Hotshots enjoyed their two-day break before returning to practice on Tuesday, training up to Black Saturday on the eve of Game Three on Easter Sunday.

“Wala eh, ganun talaga (no holiday),” Victolero said. “Sabi ko lang sa kanila, we will sacrifice a little bit dito sa Holy Week, but they understand naman. Kaya naman namin ginagawa ‘to dahil we want to achieve something.”

“Good thing we had two days of rest, it’s very important for the players, kasi sabi ko nga nun, almost three weeks na kami naglalaro, so magandang pahinga para sa mga bata, kasi at least kahit papaano, yung system namin, nakapahinga sila, tapos magagawa namin,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos