(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Injury problems to a specific player can be amended as long as the rest of the team steps up for the injured player. But injury problems to multiple players? That's a different story. No matter how good your coach and/or your team is, if your is not physically fit to play on the court, you will definitely struggle even against bad teams.
And over the past conferences, that has been the problem with the Magnolia Hotshots. In fact, they were consistent on being on the semifinals only to be hit by injury to star players like Paul Lee and Marc Pingris. Paul Lee, for one, missed the latter parts of their Governors' Cup semifinal series against the Meralco Bolts who swept the Hotshots in 3 games.
After dropping their Christmas Day game against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, the Magnolia Hotshots have been on the surge, winning 3 straight games, the last one being a 97-91 come-from-behind-win over the Phoenix Fuel Masters. That game saw the Hotshots erase a 5-point deficit in the final 3 minutes of the 4th quarter through the combined efforts of Marc Pingris, Ian Sangalang, Paul Lee and Rafi Reavis.
More Healthy Players = Higher Chances of Winning
While there's no denying the fact that the Magnolia Hotshots have one of the oldest cores in the PBA, they are still among the few teams this conference who have both the talent and the experience to take down the defending Philippine Cup champions, the San Miguel Beermen. They just need to do one thing to remain competitive and hopefully end their semifinal slumps: stay away from injuries especially during the latter part of the conference.
With the PBA now allowing a higher amount of physicality during games, we can expect more bodies banging against each other plus a few bodies flying onto the court. While it's good and fun for the fans to see the league allowing more bangings between players, these are exactly the things that the Hotshots should be careful about because one bad fall could hurt not just a player but the conference of the team.
With the Hotshots scheduled to face the Talk N Text KaTropa this coming Saturday, Chito Victolero can only hope and pray that none of his players will get not just during their next game but for the rest of the PBA's 43rd season because no coach enjoys seeing his players not being able to play due to injury.