MANILA, Philippines -- Needing just one more win to punch their tickets to the semifinals of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, the Magnolia Hotshots plan to stick to what has gotten them this far in the conference.
"We want to outwork our opponents," stressed Magnolia coach Chito Victolero after his wards pulled away for an 81-70 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in Game 1 of their best-of-3 quarterfinals series last Sunday.
Plenty of credit went to Paul Lee, who scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth frame, including the dagger three-pointer with just over a minute to go.
But Victolero was most proud of the hard work and hustle shown by the Hotshots, something that was made evident by their 66-43 edge in rebounding. They had 23 offensive rebounds in the game, leading to 21 second-chance points.
"We talked about outhustle and outwork our opponent eh. Hindi lang naman ngayon, since Day 1, that's our mantra," the coach said.
"In terms of talent, we're not that deep, but in terms of chemistry and working hard, I think masasabi ko na we're No. 1, para sa akin," he added. "Kasi makikita ko naman sa mga batang 'to na talagang every single day, they work hard. Talagang nage-extra sila, and I think lumalabas 'yun sa game."
"Nakikita natin sa game, the 50-50 balls, the hustle, everything."
Big man Ian Sangalang set the tone for Magnolia with his effort inside the paint, finishing with a double-double of 19 points and 13 rebounds. Calvin Abueva, the leading contender for the Best Player of the Conference award, added 13 rebounds and eight points, while Jackson Corpuz came off the bench to grab eight boards of his own.
Sangalang stressed that the Hotshots are well aware of what will lead them to victory, especially against a physical Rain or Shine team.
"Para sa team namin, never give up kami. 'Yun nga, sabi ko kanina, kailangan namin mag-trabaho, both ends, defense and offense. 'Yun 'yung magpapanalo sa inyo eh, 'yung hard work niyo," he said.
"Ayun, nagawa namin 'yung trabaho namin, 'yung game plan namin, na-execute namin ng tama kaya nakuha namin 'yung W sa dulo."
Victolero said they will stick to what has been working for them when they play Rain or Shine again on Thursday for Game 2 of their quarterfinal series.
"We will treat it as possession by possession," the coach said. "The result, hindi muna namin iisipin 'yun."
"The result will come in the end, so basta ginawa lang namin 'yung dapat naming gawin, the game plan, the execution and everything, 'yun lang muna," he added.