With a new name and an intact roster, Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero is optimistic of the Hotshots’ campaign in the upcoming Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43, which fires off on December 17.
The squad, formerly known as Star, was introduced to the public on Monday renamed “Magnolia.” The team, aiming to surpass their semifinals finish last season, promised to jump into the fray with the same fighting spirit.
“We just decided to keep our core from last season. We only added two rookies in the line-up. Right now, we are trying to focus on the conditioning of the players to prevent injuries and improving the team’s chemistry,” said Victolero during a news conference at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig City.
Leading the Hotshots are mainstays Marc Pingris, Paul Lee, Rafi Reavis, Mark Barroca and Peter June Simon while Robbie Herndon, the sixth overall pick, and second rounder Gwynne Capacio are the new faces in the roster.
“We accepted the challenge to achieve a higher goal this coming season by surpassing our semifinal finishes last season. Our main goal to reach the finals and I’m glad we are on the same page in what we’re doing now,” he added.
The Hotshots reached the semis twice during the rookie season of Victolero.
Victolero said the addition of Herndon gives them another offensive option while the six-foot-four Capacio is very versatile and could be a solid defensive player like his father Glenn, who started his career with the Hotshots franchise.
Lee is close to return after injuring the medial collateral ligament of his left knee anew during the semifinals game against Meralco last October. Jalalon, on the other hand, is recuperating from a lateral collateral ligament injury.
“We are happy that Paul (Lee) and Jio (Jalalon) are properly recovering from their respective injuries,” said Victolero.
Pingris welcomed the change in the team and hopes that they can reach their goals this season.
“We have a new name this coming season and we’re very excited. I know there are lots of strong teams but we’re aiming to get into the finals,” said Pingris, who was slowed down by a hip injury in the Commissioner’s Cup last season.
The other members of the Hotshots are Ian Sangalang, Bambam Gamalinda, Kyle Pascual, Justin Melton, Rome Dela Rosa, Aldrech Ramos and Mon Abundo.