ANTIPOLO – Chito Victolero hailed the effort of Romeo Travis, who played through a hamstring injury to lead Magnolia past Ginebra in Game Four, 112-108, and to the PBA Governors Cup Finals.
“Grabe ‘yung puso ng import namin,” said the Magnolia coach of Travis, who scored a career-high 50 points to lead the Hotshots to their first finals appearance in two years.
Victolero said Travis has been nursing a Grade 2 hamstring injury since Game Three where he only scored 12 points in a Ginebra victory.
But Victolero said Travis wasn't about to quit despite playing with an injury so severe that Magnolia considered tapping a back-up import in two-time UAAP MVP Ben Mbala.
Victolero also said the search for a replacement import had the blessing of Travis, who would have the final say had the Hotshots played in a Game Five.
“Sabi niya sa akin, 'Coach don’t worry, I’ll do my best. It will get better tomorrow.' I trust him. I believe in him. After that Game Three, talagang binigay niya lahat.
“I talked to Romeo yesterday morning. I will need another backup and then he approved na if he can’t play today or maybe on Sunday, ‘yun ‘yung next option namin.”
As it turned out, the Hotshots didn’t need Mbala anymore.
“’Yun ‘yung puso ng import ko. Wala akong masabi. Kahapon, hindi siya makalakad. Game Three, nasaktan siya but he is forced to play kasi kailangan.
“I love this guy from the beginning. Ibang klase ‘yung binigay niyang leadership sa amin,” said Victolero.