Next time around, Hotshots will come fully prepared

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    LIKE everybody else, Magnolia is waiting to hear from the PBA on how the pro league would go about setting up its next season.

    With some valuable lessons learned from the recent PBA bubble in Pampanga, coach Chito Victolero already has plotted his immediate plans for the Hotshots.

    “Plano second week of January balik training na kami,” Victolero told Malaya-Business Insight.

    “Hindi ko pa kasi alam ang protocols ng PBA. Kung papayag ba sila sa dating ginawa na apat-apat muna. Kung sakaling hindi sila papayag doon sa may court na, we will start our Zoom workouts,” added Victolero.

    “Siguro by the first week ng January mag-tatanong kami sa PBA kung ano ang puwedeng gawin. Kung di man court, Zoom training kami,” Victolero added.

    “You have to be ready, lalo na kung mangyari ulit iyon (bubble), na individually you need to prepare. Importante iyung preparation.”

    The need to be more prepared stemmed from what Magnolia experienced in the Philippine Cup, the lone conference salvaged from the PBA’s 45th season hard-hit by the pandemic.

    Their preparations stymied by the limited group workouts allowed by the league and government officials, the Hotshots admittedly entered the Pampanga bubble in less than 100 percent and it showed.

    Having lost to last year’s champion San Miguel Beer on opening day, Magnolia dropped three of its first four games at the AUF Sports Arena.

    “Importante iyung individual training agad. Siyempre nu’ng dumating kami doon, kumbaga hindi lahat nasa kundisyon. Iyon ang hinahabol, walang timing. Hindi lang naman kami.

    Every team nangapa naman,” related Victolero. “Pero siyempre, kung makauna ka, mas maganda, mas nakaipon ka.”

    After finally getting their bearings, the Hotshots won six straight to advance to the quarterfinals as the seventh-seed but dropped an 88-89 heartbreaker to No. 2 Phoenix Super LPG in their quarterfinals duel.

    According to Commissioner Willie Marcial, the league’s next season is set to start  most probably on its 46th anniversary on April 9. But that all depends on what the situation would be regarding the lingering virus threat.

    “Tinitingnan pa naming lahat kung ano mangyayari, ano sitwasyon. Pag-aaralan pa,” said Marcial, while asking for a grace period of until March for him to come up with the framework for the coming season.

    “Di ko masabi ‘yung eksakto kasi depende sa vaccine, sa anong klaseng bubble, economy, venue,” added Marcial.

    Victolero and his charges won’t be caught off-guard this time.

    “If you are ready sa simula pa lang, I think mas maganda kapupuntahan mo,” he said.