THERE will be little downtime in the long break ahead for Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok.
Not with coach Chito Victolero bent on addressing the main problem which he feels directly contributed to his Hotshots' failed title-retention bid in the PBA Governors' Cup.
"Nakakahinayang," said Victolero two days after Magnolia's sorry 97-98 loss to TNT in their quarterfinals duel last Monday.
The win gave the third-seeded KaTropa outright entry to the semifinals while denying the sixth-seeded Hotshots the chance to force a deciding match and from there stay on track to defend the crown it fought so hard for last season.
The defeat also capped a costly trend for the Hotshots, greatly dampening their chances.
In a game against NLEX last Nov. 10, Magnolia had a 26-point spread razed. Against San Miguel Beer roughly a month before, Magnolia got shut out in the last two minutes.
In the KaTropa game, the Hotshots blew as much as a 22-point bulge and a 10-point cushion in the last four minutes.
"Madami kaming games na almost controlled na 'yung game," noted Victolero. "But mga last two minutes, siguro after three quarters, bumababa iyung energy or 'yung aming consistency.
"So mga breaks ng game 'yung talo namin, pero of course kasalanan din namin. Kasi nga, kontrolado na namin then nawawala pa sa amin."
Resolving that problem is foremost in Victolero's current agenda.
"Iyun 'yung bibigyan namin ng emphasis sa aming off-season, how to improve 'yun," declared Victolero. "Kasi dati naman wala kaming problema doon, eh. I think kailangan naming balikan iyun, bigyan namin ng emphasis 'yung endgame situations, mga situationals."
Victolero already has one finger on such collapses. "More on mental siguro," he said.
"We had a very good gameplan, na-execute namin. But ang problema hindi namin na-pi-finish iyung game. For this conference only. I don't know why, but we will figure it out, kung ano dapat naming gawin this off-season."
Magnolia returns to practice only on the week after the New Year to start gearing up for the new season that kicks off in March.
The early preparations also include getting Chris Banchero fully acclimated with his new teammates and Victolero's system. The combo guard was acquired from Alaska last Nov. 3 and played just four games with the Hotshots.
"Actually, excited nga ako sa pagkakakuha namin kay Banchero, eh," admitted Victolero. "Sabi ko nga sa kanya, hindi pa niya gamay o kulang pa sa chemistry.
Malaking tulong off-season para lalo niyang makilala mga kasamahan niya. Pero with him naging maganda ikot sa guard rotation namin."
There is also the matter of how Magnolia will use its No. 9 pick overall in the rookie draft set Dec. 8.
"May meeting kami ng coaching staff before the draft, then we will try to figure out kung ano kulang ng team, kung ano'ng player, anong posisyon," related Victolero. "Pag-uusapan namin, then titingnan namin sa draft.
"We will try to look at the best possible talent, but also kung ano kulang namin. Siguro mga forward spot o center spot hanapin namin. Pero pag-uusapan pa namin. Whatever na maging desisyon namin, sana may makuha kami." (NC)