MANILA, Philippines -- The Magnolia Hotshots injected some life into their shaky Philippine Cup campaign after stunning Barangay Ginebra, 102-92, in the "bubble" edition of the Manila Clasico on Sunday night.
For the Hotshots, it was a much needed victory as they had dropped their past three assignments in the conference, putting them at 1-4 in the standings. Moreover, they have also lost their past four games against the Gin Kings.
"Parang do-or-die sa amin 'to because we're 1-4, and we need to bounce back talaga," Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said after the game. "Natapat lang siguro na Ginebra 'yung kalaban namin."
Despite the comfortable margin of victory, it was not an easy game for the Hotshots as they needed to recover from a 10-point hole in the third quarter.
Huge shots by Paul Lee and Mark Barroca down the stretch kept them in control, while their defense held firm against Ginebra guard Stanley Pringle and forward Japeth Aguilar.
Victolero was well aware of the significance of their win over Ginebra.
"For the last conference, ilang conference na hindi kami makapanalo sa Ginebra eh. I mean, na-break namin 'yan last year noong wala pa si Pringle, we won in the semis and sa quarters sa kanila," he recalled.
"But when Pringle comes, parang nahirapan na naman kaming manalo. This time, at least we have a magandang preparation, at least 'yung commitment ng mga players, nandoon," he added.
"I'm very happy na nakapanalo kami."
It also showed Victolero that his team is capable of finishing games on a strong note, after late collapses against the Meralco Bolts and the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters in their previous games. They lost in overtime to Meralco, and squandered a 17-point lead against the Fuel Masters.
"Sabi ko nga sa kanila, I'm very proud every game, hundred percent. Kaya lang hindi lang talaga namin ma-finish. So at least ito, na-finish na namin," he said.
At 2-4, the Hotshots are still at the lower half of the team standings and will need to string together a winning streak in order to vault into playoff contention. But Victolero is optimistic that the win over Ginebra is exactly what they need to boost their confidence again.
"It's a breakout game for us, na hopefully madala namin ang momentum to our next game," he said.
Magnolia is scheduled to play Blackwater Elite on Wednesday, although it remains to be seen if the game will push through after a Blackwater player had to be quarantined following a positive COVID-19 result.
The player has since tested negative in both antigen and RT-PCR tests.