FINALLY, Magnolia got over the hump after the fourth try. After four years and four straight semifinals appearances, the Hotshots finally had their return trip to the finals after they won their best-of-seven semifinals against upstart NLEX, 4-2, to continue their quest in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup.
Now, Magnolia looks forward to a daunting challenge ahead as it faces an uphill climb in trying to dethrone three-time defending champion San Miguel Beer in the best-of-seven finals starting tomorrow.
Still, the Hotshots are first cherishing the accomplishment that they finally reached after failing to do so last season despite semifinals appearances in all three tournaments.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero was emotional after his team clinched the last berth in the finals Tuesday night and expressed his satisfaction for his team’s hard work to get to the big stage.
“We’ve work so hard to finally get over the hump,” said Victolero, who is now on his first trip to the finals as head coach. “Hindi madali. We made the semifinals in all conferences last season but we fell short. Now, we finally made it.”
Victolero also shared how his team embraced the trials and setbacks. They just kept fighting to earn their place in the finals.
“It’s really a process and we understood that. We knew it’s tough to get to the finals and I credit the players for sticking with it. We now have a chance to win a championship.”
The last time Magnolia made the finals was back in 2014 when it won the coveted Grand Slam back in the days when Tim Cone was handling the squad.
The Hotshots will have to make do without veteran star Marc Pingris, who tore his ACL in the semifinals and will miss the rest of the season.
Against the Beermen and four-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, Magnolia once again needs to dig deep to give itself the best shot it can possibly have of pulling a big upset.