Nov 05, 2018

Coach Victolero says Hotshots need to play defense for 48 minutes in matchup vs. Blackwater

BLACKWATER is ranged against an opponent which seemingly has its number and is now made more formidable by a seemingly huge advantage.

Despite the dire situation his Elite are in, coach Bong Ramos remains unperturbed.

"Nakikita ko pa rin na may chance kami," said Ramos, referring to his side's PBA Governors Cup quarterfinals duel with Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

By virtue of finishing fourth at the end of the 11-game eliminations, the Hotshots come into the duel with a twice-to-beat advantage over the fifth-ranked Elite and need only to win once to advance to the semi-finals.

To top it all up, Magnolia dealt Blackwater a 133-99 beatdown in their lone elims meeting last Oct. 10.

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Ramos maintains that is all in the past. "History na 'yun," he said.

"Importante 'yung game namin sa susunod," added Ramos. "We learned from that at napag-usapan na 'yun before pa."

Hotshots coach Chito Victolero has the same sentiment.

"Nakaraan na iyung game na iyon," said Victolero on the eve of the match.
"What we need to focus on is tomorrow's game dahil there's nothing more dangerous than a desperate team."

Still, there is no escaping the fact that Blackwater needs to bring more than its A-game just to force a decider on Thursday.
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"Our back is against the wall," noted Ramos. "We need to survive a must-win game."

Unlike Magnolia, which wound up the elims on Oct. 28, Blackwater must do a quick turnaround following an exhausting match against Phoenix just last Sunday, which the Fuel Masters won 97-91.

"One day preparation coming from a tough game," noted Ramos. "We have to overcome adversity."

Magnolia actually lost two of its last three games in the elims, but still totes the longest winning streak in the season-ending tourney at five.

Victolero said it is a matter of his team bringing its strongest weapon for it to make short work of Blackwater.

"Iyung defensive mindset namin kailangan nandoon and we have to sustain it for 48 minutes for us to have a good chance," said Victolero.

Main focus of that should be Henry Walker.

Walker was limited to just 21 points in the loss to Phoenix but still averages 25.27 points, 13.27 rebounds and 5.82 assists per game, not to mention tons of leadership.

The former NBA campaigner should also be recovered from the sore left leg muscle that limited him to just six second half points in the Fuel Masters game and guide the likes of JP Erram, Nards Pinto, Paul Zamar and Allein Maliksi.

Magnolia is expected to rely mostly on Romeo Travis but the local support, led by Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon, Ian Sangalang and Mark Barroca, should prove crucial.

"We just have to execute on both ends," insisted Victolero. (NC)