HomeHomeChito Victolero rues Magnolia's late collapse against Meralco

Chito Victolero rues Magnolia’s late collapse against Meralco

FILE PHOTO–Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. –PBA IMAGES

FILE PHOTO–Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. –PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines–Coach Chito Victolero couldn’t hide the disappointment of seeing Magnolia collapse late in regulation which led to his team’s 113-107 overtime loss to Meralco and a quarterfinal exit in the PBA Governors’ Cup.

“The learning lesson for us is that it’s not yet over till it’s over,” Victolero said with a mixture of Filipino words following Wednesday’s playoff encounter at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Hotshots were up 96-89 with more than three minutes to go when the Bolts made a stunning comeback that resulted in Aaron Black’s buzzer-beating jumper to force a five-minute extension.

Meralco continued to get the breaks in the extra session behind Chris Newsome to punch its ticket to the semis and send Magnolia to an offseason perhaps filled with regrets.

“I think Meralco deserved to win because they didn’t quit and almost all of the breaks went their way,” Victolero said. “We had a good game but we couldn’t finish the job.”

It was the second time under Victolero that Magnolia saw its conference end with a collapse in the final period.

Magnolia had an 18-point lead against TNT in the 2019 Governors’ Cup quarters, ironically the latter having current Meralco import KJ McDaniels as reinforcement, before failing to close it out in the payoff to lose 98-97.

A couple of times the Hotshots could shake their heads in disbelief over Merlaco’s opportunities such as Paul Lee’s three that was waived off due to Mark Barroca’s moving screen while up four.

“We have to be sharp and smart down the stretch,” Victolero lamented. “If we face elite teams like Meralco, Ginebra, San Miguel Beer or TNT, we have to make sure that we’re ready for 48 minutes and avoid having breakdowns late in the game.”

Magnolia’s season ended after a third conference that started on the wrong foot when it lost the first three games.

Import Antonio Hester came in as a replacement and the Hotshots went 7-1, but was forced to be placed on a twice-to-win disadvantage after a 7-4 record was only good enough to finish outside of the top four, in fifth place to be exact.

Then the Bolts showed them the door, in the most stunning way.

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