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Magnolia Aims for Strong Start Against NLEX

Coach Chito Victolero admits that there’s still room for Magnolia to get better after a big comeback against Barangay Ginebra left the Hotshots the only unbeaten team in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup. “We just have to remind our players to start strong and finish stronger,” said Victolero ahead of the 8 p.m. match against NLEX at Philsports Arena in Pasig City. Victolero hopes to see the Hotshots heed his call Friday when they attempt to stretch a perfect start to five games against the Road Warriors, who recently made an import switch while activating a vital cog that has had some time off due to an injury. NLEX, on paper and in the standings, is not at par with Ginebra, which Magnolia stunningly defeated, 93-91, despite an awful start that plunged the Hotshots to a 26-point deficit. That victory extended the Hotshots’ unbeaten run to 15 games, counting the exhibition caravan dubbed as the PBA On Tour in the offseason. But Victolero still wants to clean up his team’s performance going into Friday’s game. “We really played a bad first half [against Ginebra] and we can address that,” said Victolero. “We actually resolved that against NorthPort, but our bad habits resurfaced again.” NLEX looks to score an upset and hand Magnolia its first loss since March in the quarterfinals of last season’s Governors’ Cup with Stockley Chaffee taking the import role from Thomas Robinson.