ANTIPOLO -- Chito Victolero didn't know how it felt to win a championship in the PBA until Wednesday.
Victolero and Magnolia captured the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup title by closing out the Alaska Aces 102-86 in Game 6 at the Ynares Sports Center.
"So this is how it feels to win a championship in the PBA," he said in Filipino. "We worked hard for this from last year. We really learned from three semifinals last year and the finals in the first conference. It all boils down to this game."
Victolero won his first championship as head coach of Magnolia. He also became the 14th former PBA player to win a title as head coach.
It was a vindication of sorts for the former KIA head coach, who guided the team through the early years of being an expansion team. He stepped down as interim coach before finding a new home in Magnolia. Before he came over, though, Magnolia had endured one tumultuous season after another after completing a sweep in 2014 under coach Tim Cone.
Victolero brought a defensive-minded approach to the Hotshots and guided the team back to contention. On their way to the championship, Victolero and the Hotshots eliminated ex-coach Cone and the two-time defending champion Ginebra Kings in the semifinals, completing a rite of passage.
Magnolia governor Rene Pardo had nothing but praise for Victolero.
"Coach Chito is a player's coach. He really loves the players. He will do everything for his players," said Pardo in Filipino. "Hats off to Chito. He's great at motivating the players. We were lucky to have him as coach."
Victolero was sure to credit the staff and management for completing the franchise's turnaround.
"The credit is not mine, it's for the whole team: the players, the coaching staff, support staff, and management," he said.