SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Magnolia has its own “crowd” inside the PBA bubble and it’s none other than its boisterous bench.
Every game, all the second stringers, coaches and even staff members do everything they can to pump up their men on the court.
Probably the noisiest at the AUF Sports Arena, the Hotshots at the bench shout “defense”, bang the chairs with empty bottles, disrupt the opposite team’s ball handler with annoying sounds and most notably, show their signature crowd wave for every free throw made.
“Hands up ako sa bench namin talaga. I mean, they’re trying to enjoy the bubble. Sila Alvin Abundo, Aris (Dionisio), Kyle Pascual, even ‘yung mga coaches (are) enjoying sa bench. Talagang one family,” said coach Chito Victolero.
On Wednesday night, the Magnolia bench kept Paul Lee and company energized after seeing their 18-point lead over TNT dwindle down to just one, 82-81, midway through the fourth quarter.
Lee, Chris Banchero and Ian Sangalang combined forces to pull the Hotshots away en route to a 102-92 victory against the league-leading Tropang Giga for their first back-to-back triumphs and a 3-4 slate.
Victolero said the involvement of the bench is a “testament to our chemistry.”
“Matagal nang magkakasama ‘yung mga ‘yan. Tinginan lang sa mata, tanguan lang alam na nila,” said the 44-year-old mentor.
Victolero added that his players are cherishing each other’s company even off the court in this historic bubble season. The one-time champion coach has no plans spoiling the party for the Hotshots.
After all, they are currently on a roll. “They know how to enjoy this bubble. Pinababayaan ko lang. Masaya naman kami.”
“‘Yun naman ang lagi kong sinasabi. Let’s enjoy. Whatever happens, kung saan kami makarating dito, we just try to enjoy kung anuman ‘tong nangyari ngayon. It’s a (part of) history sa PBA.”