MANILA, Philippines – There's barely room for mistakes now for the Magnolia Hotshots.
Even with 6 elimination round games left, Chito Victolero said Magnolia needs to activate its playoff mode to avoid an early exit in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup after a sorry 87-89 loss to Phoenix on Wednesday, March 6.
The Hotshots barely looked like the team that won the championship in the Governors' Cup last season as they dwell at the bottom of the standings with a dismal 1-4 record.
"Itong mga natitirang game namin, kailangan siguro parang playoff mentality na kami," Victolero told reporters after the game. "Kung matalo kami ng isa o dalawa, out na siguro kami. We need to improve on our next game."
(In our following games, I think we should have a playoff mentality already. If we lose once or twice, we'll probably bow out of playoff contention. We need to improve on our next game.)
Enjoying a lead as large as 17 points, Magnolia was groomed to follow its breakthrough win over Meralco with another triumph.
But Phoenix slowly chipped away on its deficit before pulling off a great escape thanks to reigning Rookie of the Year Jason Perkins scoring the game's last 4 points.
"We expected naman na babalik 'yung Phoenix eh because I told my players that this is a grinding game and 'yun nga, doon sa dulo nagkaano. Medyo talagang siguro dagdagan pa 'yung depensa namin," Victolero said.
(We expected Phoenix to come back because I told the players that this is a grinding game. And as predicted, it was what happened in the end. I think we should improve on our defense.)
Victolero also highlighted the need to close games better.
Except from its 21-point beating from San Miguel, Magnolia's remaining losses had been decided by 5 points or lower and on an average of 2.7 points.
"I think we need to be more 'yung toughness mas kailangan namin dagdagan pa. It's all breaks of the game eh."
(I think we need to work on our toughness. It's all breaks of the game.)
"Doon 'yung kailangan naming i-improve, how to make a stop sa dulo," Victolero added.
(It's about how to make stops in the end, that's what we need to improve on.)
Magnolia faces a must-win situation when it battles Alaska on Saturday, March 9, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.