MAGNOLIA is admittedly still haunted by its futile stint in last year's PBA Philippine Cup bubble and doesn't want that to happen again.
Main reason why the Hotshots want to rack up more wins coming to their game against Terrafirma Friday in this year's edition of the import-less tournament at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
A fourth straight win in their 12:30 p.m. match would not only solidify Magnolia's hold on the lead but also move them one step closer to emerging from the 11-game eliminations as one of the top two teams which will be rewarded with a win-once advantage in the next round.
Even Hotshots combo guard Paul Lee admitted that the memories of last year's bubble are still there. They rattled off six straight wins following a 1-4 start, but those could only net them a No. 7 ranking. They then got bumped off in just one game by second-seed Phoenix in the quarterfinals.
"Pag-start pa lang ng practices namin para sa season na ito, naalala namin kung paano kami nag-start doon sa bubble," related Lee. "So ayaw na naming maulit iyon."
For its part, Terrafirma is aching to burst into the win-column after failing to do just that against TNT and NLEX.
Against the Road Warriors, the youth-laden Dyip did show flashes of their potential when they even took a nine-point lead in the second quarter. But the former's shooting touch soured at about the same time their opponents got hot and NLEX went on to carve out a 108-94 victory.
The promise shown by Terrafirma is not lost on grizzled coach Yeng Guiao, however. "Malakas na team itong Terrafirma," he said.
"I think their rookies, their young guys have potential," added Guiao. "This is a big team, a very physical, athletic team. Mahirap silang talunin."
But so is Magnolia, which also has an additional motivation.
"Maganda start namin pero hindi ito 'yung tinitingnan namin, journey namin, gusto naming marating. Maganda iyung start, yes. But we will be humble and kailangan pa rin naming magtrabaho kasi maaga pa," said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero.
"One game at a time, prepare for next game," added the former Coach of the Year awardee. "Medyo mahirap, marami pang p'wedeng mangyari, hindi kami p'wedeng mag-relax. We have an ultimate goal. We will try to find ways on how to prepare hard and how to win." (NC)