Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero was awarded the 2018 PBA Press Corps Coach of the Year on Monday.
Moments after receiving the award, Victolero paid tribute to several other PBA coaches.
"They are our idols," Victolero said. "Coach Tim (Cone), coach Leo (Austria), even coach Yeng (Guiao) and coach Norman (Black), who used to be my coach at Sta. Lucia, they have been my inspiration in coaching so I don't want to say I beat them all, but it's just that I was blessed to win this (a championship and this award)," he explained.
Victolero captured the prestigious award, besting Cone and Austria, after leading Magnolia to the Governors' Cup championship last season. It was the Purefoods franchise's first PBA title in the post-Tim Cone era or since they won the Governors' Cup title in 2014, the year the team won the rare Grand Slam feat.
Magnolia team governor Rene Pardo shared that management has been pleased with Victolero's performance since he handled the coaching duties in 2017 and rewarded him with a three-year extension.
"Actually we renewed his contract before the (2018) season ended. We were happy with him in whatever outcome we would have that time in the third conference," Pardo told ESPN5.
After their championship run in the season-ending conference, the Pambansang Manok have a big target on their backs. Magnolia prepared to go on another deep playoff run but is currently dealing with a few injuries with its players.
Stretch four Aldrech Ramos went down with a hamstring injury during practice last week, but is expected to recover in time for February 3 when they play their first game of the season against TNT.
Magnolia also expects veteran forward Marc Pingris to return to action in March. Pingris is currently recovering from an ACL tear on his knee, which he suffered in the 2018 Philippine Cup.