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MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero spared the referees of the blame even after seeing the Hotshots’ unbeaten start in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup snapped.
Defeated for the first time after five straight wins, Magnolia squandered a 15-point lead and allowed Barangay Ginebra to complete a 103-97 comeback victory on Sunday, October 23.
“We can’t blame everything on the referees or officiating,” said Victolero in a mix of Filipino and English as the Hotshot lost to the Gin Kings for the first time in three years after four consecutive triumphs in their Clasico duels.
Down 97-99 with 20 seconds remaining, Magnolia hoped to get a stop, but import Nick Rakocevic got whistled for a crucial deliberate foul on Ginebra reinforcement Justin Brownlee.
The Gin Kings were awarded two free throws plus possession, with Brownlee icing the win by draining all of his last four foul shots.
“It’s not just me, all the coaches want consistent officiating. But again, it’s not an excuse that we lost. Let’s give credit to Ginebra,” Victolero said.
Instead, Victolero said the Hotshots’ failure to protect a huge lead doomed their chances of keeping their once-unblemished record spotless.
Magnolia still enjoyed a double-digit advantage going into the final salvo, 83-73, before Ginebra staged a 16-6 coup to draw level.
The Hotshots were outscored 30-14 overall in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t play for 48 minutes,” said Victolero. “We need to play this elite team, this Ginebra team [for 48 minutes]. We know they’re a powerhouse. If you play for only 36 or 40 minutes, you can’t win.”
Still, Victolero chose to take the good with the bad.
“I think we learned from this. I told my players that this is the right time to have those mistakes so that we can learn from them,” Victolero said.
“Moving forward, in our succeeding games in the eliminations, at least we know that we need to play for 48 minutes. It’s a test, it’s a character test for us.” – Rappler.com