PBA: Tough series vs. NLEX prepped Magnolia for defending champs TNT, says coach

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2022 02:48 PM | Updated as of Aug 02 2022 02:51 PM

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero gives instructions during a timeout. PBA Images.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero gives instructions during a timeout. PBA Images.

MANILA, Philippines -- A hard-fought quarterfinal series against NLEX bodes well for the Magnolia Hotshots in their progress in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup, according to head coach Chito Victolero.

The third-seeded Hotshots escaped with a thrilling 112-106 win against the Road Warriors in Game 3 of their quarterfinal series last Sunday, propelling them to the final four.

There, they will face off against the TNT Tropang GIGA in a rematch of last year's All-Filipino finals. The Hotshots, with their line-up severely impacted by injuries, lost in five games to TNT in the Bacolor bubble last season.

"Thankful ako sa talagang binigay na laban sa amin ni Coach Yeng [Guiao]," Victolero said after Game 3, where the Hotshots leaned on Jio Jalalon in overtime to snatch the victory.

"They deserve also to go to the semis. Kasi sobrang ganda ng laro nila eh. Both teams naman, it boils down to one possession, it boils down to one rebound, one miss," he added.

NLEX gave Magnolia's vaunted defense all it can handle, with sophomore forward Calvin Oftana dropping 32 points in Game 3 to keep the Road Warriors afloat.

When it looked as though the Hotshots would pull away in overtime, Don Trollano waxed hot from long range to keep NLEX within striking distance.

"Kumabaga, ni-ready nila kami going to the semis," Victolero said of the Road Warriors. "Everything -- the mental toughness, the physical game, so lahat. We're very thankful talaga."

The Hotshots open their best-of-7 series against TNT on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum, seeking not just back-to-back finals appearances in the All-Filipino but also a measure of revenge for last season's defeat.

Despite being primed for the semis through their series against the Road Warriors, Victolero still warned that it will be a "different battle" against TNT.

The Tropang GIGA have the advantage of a longer rest, having needed just one game to dispatch Converge in their own quarterfinals match-up. TNT had a twice-to-beat edge after finishing as the second seed in the elimination round.

"They are the defending champions. They beat us in the bubble. Hopefully we can compete," said Victolero. "We will try our best again to compete and to go again into the finals."

"But we want to rest muna siguro. Rest our bodies and our minds, and we'll try to prepare for tomorrow."

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