EVEN with the addition of Calvin Abueva, Magnolia coach Chito Victolero doesn’t consider his team a powerhouse in the same league as defending champion Barangay Ginebra, San Miguel, or TnT Tropang Giga.
Victolero said he still considers the Hotshots as one of the ‘middle teams,’ although he admitted the acquisition of Abueva definitely improved their lineup.
“Malakas pa rin naman ‘yung ibang team sa amin. Mas lalakas pa ba sa San Miguel at Ginebra? Nandoon lang kami sa puwede kaming maka-compete ng maayos. Baka magkaroon ng chance,” said Victolero.
Prior to the Abueva trade, Magnolia has seen rival teams bolster their lineup beginning with the Beermen, who acquired CJ Perez in a blockbuster deal with Terrafirma for Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Gelo Alolino, Russel Escoto, and a draft pick.
Ginebra, meanwhile, re-signed Greg Slaughter after his one-year sabbatical, and acquired MJ Ayaay from the free agent ranks.
Even TNT, last year’s runner-up, got stronger, signing Glenn Khobuntin, Dave Marcelo, and Ping Exciminiano while re-hiring Chot Reyes as head coach.
Victolero said Abueva will definitely help Magnolia compete with the upper echelon teams in the coming season.
“Pero in terms of powerhouse o ‘yung teams na talagang super ganda ng kanilang lineup, it’s San Miguel, Ginebra, and Talk ‘N Text na puwede nating sabihin na ‘yung super maganda talaga ‘yung lineup.”
“We are in the middle with Phoenix, Meralco, NLEX, NorthPort, and the other teams. But of course, we have the talent na puwede na kaming maka-compete. We are in the middle of the pack. Now, we have a chance to compete with the elite teams,” said Victolero.
The Magnolia coach said Abueva gives him the team a lot of flexibility in terms of strategy since he can play multiple positions.
“We are not that kind of team,” said Victolero, referring to being a super team. “With the addition of Calvin, we improved. We are more versatile right now. We can play small, we can play big because Calvin can play multiple positions.”