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Victolero once again looks on defense as Magnolia deals Kia another bad beat

Paul Lee's third quarter outburst helped pave the way for Magnolia. PBA Media Bureau

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Since Chito Victolero came into Magnolia's fold last season, he has been putting a premium on defense.

But all it took was what he thought was a relatively lackadaisical first half defensively against Kia to remind his team once again of his mantra with a new year ushering in.

"We had to adjust in the second half, especially on our defense against Kia kasi ang dami nilang offensive rebounds at saka second chance points noong first half. We need to have the desire and will to give our best effort in every possession kasi out-hustled kami noong first half," Victolero said on Wednesday night.

The Picanto started their game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on a 9-2 run and even led at halftime, 49-47, despite the Hotshots going toe-to-toe the rest of the first 24 minutes.

Eventually, the defense picked up in the second half, and Magnolia never looked back and even handed Kia its second straight 47-point head-to-head loss.

[Related Story: Magnolia spoils Dandan's pro ball comeback, hands Kia 47-point defeat]

"It started on our pressure defense sa third, especially the defense of Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon sa backcourt," continued Victolero. "They only scored 11 points in the third. We limited them to under 80 points, which is our goal. I think maganda yung depensa noong second half,"

In total, the Picanto only made 28 points in the second half and finished the game with only a 34 percent clip from the field.

The Hotshots also forced them to 25 errors, 15 of which were unforced while the other 10 were off steals, leading to 37 turnover points.

They also kept Rashawn McCarthy and Reden Celda at bay with both players only scoring 11 points each.

"Ang pinagusapan namin noong [halftime] ay kailangan naming ma-control yung rebounds at mga nagke-create sa kanila, especially McCarthy and Celda," Victolero continued.

But the breakaway may have not been possible if not for Paul Lee's explosion in the third.

"Maganda yung third quarter ni Paul. Doon siya nag-take over. That's why medyo maging maganda yung pinakita namin noong third quarter," Victolero lauded Lee, who had all of his 13 points in the said period. "And ayun. Nahawa na yung iba dahil sa leadership nina Paul and Ping (Marc Pingris) in the third quarter. At least, kahit na papaano, yung masama naming depensa, na-recover kami noong second half."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno