The series of import changes has apparently took its toll on the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, in the process ending Chito Victolero's streak of semi-final appearances since he was named the team's coach last season.
Magnolia had made it to the semis four straight times under Victolero until that streak came to an end Tuesday night with an 89-78 loss to Alaska in the PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"Malaking factor yung hindi kami maka-settle down sa import," Victolero said. "Yung chemistry hindi namin mabuo-buo."
Victolero and the Hotshots were forced to play four imports in the conference after Vernon Macklin, their first choice, left the team to honor an earlier commitment.
Macklin helped Magnolia win three of its first four games but had to abandon the team to play in China. His departure turned Magnolia's fortune for the worse.
Macklin's replacement, Curtis Kelly, failed to lead Magnolia to victory during his two-game stint. Justin Jackson, the Hotshots' third reinforcement, managed a split also in two games but his style didn't blend well with the team.
In the hope to save their faltering campaign, Magnolia tapped former Rain or Shine and NLEX reinforcement Wayne Chism, who helped the Hotshots win their last two games in the eliminations and secure a quarterfinals berth as the No. 7 seed.
But Magnolia failed to get past the quarters as eliminations second seed Alaska, who enjoyed a twice-to-beat advantage, put away the Hotshots right on their first meeting.
Victolero hopes their experience in the Commissioner's Cup won't happen again in the season-ending Governors' Cup which starts next month.
"Medyo hindi kami pinalad ngayon," Victolero said. "But we will bounce back. We will bounce back."(JT)