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Magnolia uses tune-up game against NorthPort to stay in rhythm

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Magnolia, NorthPort face off in tune-up game (2:13)

The Magnolia Hotshots and NorthPort Batang Pier squared off in a tune-up game dedicated to Letran senior Jerrick Balanza, who recently underwent surgery for his brain tumor. (2:13)

Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero was glad to see his team back in action.

The Hotshots' last official PBA game was on September 1 when they clobbered the NorthPort Batang Pier, 104-87 in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup.

On Thursday, they faced off with NorthPort again, but this time in a charity game for the benefit of Letran player Jerrick Balanza, who recently underwent a successful brain surgery. The game was nip-and-tuck, but in the end Victolero's squad lost to the Batang Pier, 94-90, at the Letran gym.

"It's good to be able to help in our own way with this benefit game for Jerrick," Victolero told ESPN5.

"But we all know we are on a 23-day break, so competition will be difficult during that stretch. Which is why we're thankful to the PBA (Commissioner's) Office for allowing us to at least have a tune-up game like this," he added.

The amiable Magnolia mentor explained that having a three-week respite is a challenge, considering players tend to lose their rhythm.

"Tune-up games like this can help the players regain their rhythm because somehow, this will keep them in competitive mode," Victolero reasoned. "And for us, our goal is simply to get the players' rhythm back in the game, then our team chemistry because we've had a three-day break and then a separate two-day break recently."

Aside from NorthPort, Magnolia's other victim early in the season-ending conference was NLEX which the team bamboozled, 102-72, on August 22.

Magnolia is currently tied with Blackwater at 2-0, just behind Barangay Ginebra's 3-0 record.

NorthPort dropped its first three games by an average losing margin of 24.2 points with defeats to NLEX, Phoenix and Magnolia. NorthPort's most recent loss came at the hands of Barangay Ginebra, 104-98, on September 5 before the league took a break to give way to Gilas Pilipinas' games versus Iran and Qatar in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

The Governors' Cup resumes on September 19, two days after Gilas' match against the visiting Qatar at the Smart Araneta Coliseum/