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MANILA, Philippines – They say be careful what you wish for.
That’s why Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero refused to pick which team between Meralco and Phoenix he wants his Hotshots to face in the semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Toting a twice-to-beat advantage, top seed Magnolia became the first team to advance to the final four after a 109-94 win over No. 8 TNT on Wednesday, January 17.
“It is hard to choose. The important thing is that we’ll be able to prepare well. Both teams are deserving,” said Victolero in Filipino.
The Bolts and the Fuel Masters engaged in a playoff duel to remember as their quarterfinal clash marked only the 14th triple-overtime game in PBA history.
After erasing a 15-point deficit and avoiding several close calls in the extra period, No. 5 Meralco nailed a 116-107 win that forced No. 4 Phoenix to fish its twice-to-beat bonus out of its pocket.
“They played well. Nobody wanted to lose. We all saw that they have character,” said Victolero. “That is playoff basketball. Nobody gave up even if there were cramps and everything.”
Victolero has a reason to be wary as the Hotshots lost both previous playoff encounters against the Bolts and the Fuel Masters.
Magnolia bowed to Phoenix in the 2020 Philippine Cup quarterfinals and went on to lose to Meralco in the 2021-2022 Governors’ Cup semifinals and 2023 Governors’ Cup quarterfinals.
For now, the Hotshots rest as they wait for their next foe, with the Bolts and the Fuel Masters locking horns in a sudden death on Sunday, January 21, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We’ll see which team we’ll face. It is hard to prepare when things are uncertain,” said Victolero. – Rappler.com