Magnolia may have taken Game 1 of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup semifinals, but coach Chito Victolero said they are bracing for a strong fightback by Barangay Ginebra on Monday.
Victolero knows taking the series-opener is critical but he is aware Ginebra won't just roll over and die.
"Knowing Coach Tim (Cone), a many-time champion coach, the winningest coach, he knows what adjustment to make (in Game 2)," shared Victolero.
The Pambansang Manok trailed by as many as 12 points in the opening half, but patiently clawed back behind import Romeo Travis and Paul Lee. The dynamic Magnolia duo were in their scoring element throughout the game -- Travis finished with a new PBA career-high 37 points, to go along with 16 rebounds and five assists, while Lee exploded for 27.
Victolero admitted giving a pep talk to his players prior to the start of the series, reminding them that they are in the Final Four for a reason.
"I told them we have to believe, and that we need to send a message also that we can play. That's why we are here in the semis because we have the talent and chemistry also that can bring us to the finals," he stressed.
But the Magnolia coach emphasized that it takes three wins to reach the finals.
"Taking Game 1 is not it. We still need to get three wins to get to the finals so we have to be prepared because we know Ginebra will bounce back," he added.
The Kings have dominated the season-ending PBA tournament for the last two seasons. And for Cone's wards, they are expected to come out with a stronger resolve in Game 2 and try to prevent a 0-2 hole in the series.
Cone, the league's only two-time Grand Slam coach, felt the Kings gave in to the Pambansang Manok's defensive pressure.
"We came out with a good force, started the game well, then we started to succumb to their pressure as the game progressed," he said.