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Victolero set for a different kind of "pressure" in first title bid as coach

Eighteen years after making his last finals appearance as a player, Chito Victolero makes the Last Dance as a coach. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Chito Victolero is heading to his first finals appearance as a coach.

However, he was actually used to being in the Last Dance before as a player.

Victolero was a member of the 1995 Stag Pale Pilseners team, which became Tanduay 2.0 when the franchise moved to the PBA four years later as an expansion club, that won a rare PBL Grand Slam.

Victolero was also part of the 2000 San Juan Knights team that netted the franchise's one and only MBA title.

Eighteen years after, he's back in a basketball finals but this time as Magnolia's gaffer, and according to him, it's a totally different atmosphere than before.

"Magkaiba yung pressure," Victolero simply said on Wednesday when asked about how it is like to be back in the finals but as the Hotshots' tactician compared to his championship days with the Pale Pilseners and the Knights.

Despite the difference, Victolero said that he already anticipated the new kind of pressure he will face.

"Yung pressure naman, nandyan lang lagi yan," he further said. "As long as you're ready, mababawasan yung pressure."

The former Mapua player then bared that his focus for a finals series has completely changed as well.

"As a player, kailangan mo lang paghandaan yung sarili mo. You need to prepare lang talaga doon sa physical battle. But here, it's all about the mind. You need to prepare lahat ng players mo. At the same time, you need to review kung sino ang makakalaban mo," said Victolero, who declared for the 2002 PBA Draft immediately following San Juan's folding after the 2001 MBA season, being Sta. Lucia's second round choice.

Thirteen years after hanging up his basketball shoes for good in 2005, Victolero is set to lead Magnolia to the PBA Philippine Cup title as its best-of-seven showdown against defending champion San Miguel begins on Friday.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno