The Magnolia Hotshots found out on Christmas Day they are still far behind in terms of strength and cohesion when they suffered an 89-78 loss to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
That was further emphasized as they struggled to defend against Ginebra’s twin tower combination of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar – not to mention to some heady plays from LA Tenorio.
“We had a hard time defending those two big guys. Yun ang storya ng laro,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero. “But I’m still positive and it’s still early sa conference pa. We have to find ways next time on how to deal with it.”
Slaughter and Aguilar are one of many obstacles Magnolia has to hurdle if it wants to finally end a string of semifinal exits and advance to the finals for the first time in the post-Tim Cone era.
The Hotshots are relying mostly on their outside shooting in hopes of countering their height disadvantage. But against Ginebra, they only made 4 of 22 attempts from three-point country, with Lee and Peter June Simon making two each.
“Pag tinignan mo naman yung attempt nandun naman e – same attempt – but the problem is di kami makaconvert.”
Victolero said. “On the other end, we gave up 56 percent sa field goal nila which was more on points in the paint with Slaughter and Japeth.”
Marc Pingris, who made a surprise appearance despite dealing with a hip injury, said beating the likes of Ginebra and defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel are becoming more difficult than expected.
“Sa totoo lang, mahirap kalaban yung San Miguel at Ginebra dahil sa mga players nila na malalaki. Sa kanila talaga yung loob e,” Pingris said. “Pansin ko every game namin sa kanila, sinusugal ni (Ginebra) coach Tim (Cone) na tumira kami sa labas at hindi sa loob.”
“Ganoon din siya sa amin, di bale nang matalo kami sa labas, wag lang sa loob. E ngayon pa, papaano mo sila matatalo sa loob e may malalaki sila? Ang lalaki. Kami lang naman siguro maiisip ni coach (Victolero) na kailangan namin bilisan yung laro. Yun lang naman nakikita ko,” he added.