PBA: Coach Victolero hails Magnolia's defensive tenacity against TNT

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 05 2020 12:51 PM

PBA: Coach Victolero hails Magnolia's defensive tenacity against TNT 1
Chris Banchero of Magnolia goes for a layup against TNT Tropang Giga. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- For head coach Chito Victolero, the Magnolia Hotshots played true to their identity on Wednesday night when they seized an impressive 102-92 triumph over league-leading TNT Tropang Giga.

The Tropang Giga entered the game as the top-scoring team in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, averaging close to 107 points per game. On Tuesday night, they crushed NorthPort, 112-87, even with veteran guard Jayson Castro playing just under 10 minutes.

Yet even with Castro playing at full speed, the Hotshots were able to limit the Tropang Giga and hold them to their lowest scoring output of the conference. Two of TNT's big guns, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy, were silenced, and only Castro (25 points) and Ray Parks (29 points, 12 rebounds) played up to par.

"It's all about our defense," Victolero said after the game."We want to lower the score. We don't want na maka-100 points ang Talk 'N Text. We know the firepower of Talk 'N Text, and we just want them to slow down."

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It was not an easy task for the Hotshots. Victolero noted that TNT had plenty of weapons, even going so far as to call them a "Gilas team." Ahead of the game, Rosario had been averaging 14 points per game, while Pogoy normed 21.7 points per contest.

Magnolia held them to six and seven points, respectively, their conference-lows. As a team, TNT shot just 38.8% from the field, after averaging 45.4% shooting heading into the contest.

"We prepared for their team," Victolero stressed. "It's a testament to our defensive scheme, and 'yung mga ginagawa namin sa depensa."

"Very proud, very happy to my players, because that's our character -- defensive team. We showed the true character of Magnolia Hotshots basketball," he added.

Leading the way for the Hotshots were their guards, whom Victolero fondly described as "makukulit." The Magnolia backcourt helped pressure TNT into 20 turnovers, which they converted into 26 points. 

Skipper Mark Barroca had two steals, while Jio Jalalon and Justin Melton accounted for two each. Victolero gave special praise to Melton for his effort against Pogoy, and to Barroca for his defense on Castro.

"I like the peskiness of my guards, and the toughness of my guards," said Victolero, who has steered the Hotshots to great success using a three-guard line-up. "That's our strength, so we just try to maximize our strength."

Victolero is optimistic that the Hotshots' defense can only get better as they head into the closing stretch of the elimination round. At 3-4 with four games left in their schedule, the team is still optimistic that they can qualify for the playoffs.

"Nasa playoff mode na kami," the coach stressed. "Every game is a do-or-die for us."