FAREWELL ACT

Mag­no­lia im­port plays last game, hop­ing to gift Hot­shots 3rd con­sec­u­tive vic­tory

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - SPORTS - @ju­navINQ By June Navarro

Mag­no­lia pre­pared for this game as early as Wed­nes­day night.

And after play­ing spar­ingly in a lop­sided win the last time out, Ver­non Mack­lin has the legs in his swan song with the Hot­shots when they clash with for­mi­da­ble Mer­alco on Fri­day night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup elim­i­na­tions at Smart Araneta Coli­seum in Cubao.

Play­ing their third game in less than a week, the Hot­shots aren’t up for a breather in their 7 p.m. clash with the Bolts and Arinze Onu­aku as they shoot to come out of a hec­tic sched­ule un­scathed.

Set to part ways with im­port Jeremy Tyler, TNT Ka­T­ropa (3-1), mean­while, will try to re­group against skid­ding Black­wa­ter Elite (0-5) at 4:30 p.m., look­ing to bounce back from its first loss of the con­fer­ence.

“We won back-to-back games and we will face an elite team next,” said Mag­no­lia coach Chito Vic­tolero. “That’s why I rested (my starters) early (against Columbian).”

Steadily climb­ing to the top, the Hot­shots (2-1) de­feated the Glob­alPort Batang Pier in an out-of-town sor­tie and wrecked the Columbian Dyip by 25 points on Wed­nes­day night.

When the Hot­shots erected a safe 30-point bulge against Columbian, Vic­tolero be­gan pulling out Mack­lin and his starters with still a full quar­ter to go, the be­gin­ning of his prepa­ra­tions for the Bolts.

They have to come up with their best form yet against a Mer­alco (3-1) side that al­ready owns a vic­tory against rock-solid de­fend­ing cham­pion San Miguel Beer.

In his fi­nal game­with the Hot­shots, the China-bound Mack­lin also faces the huge chal­lenge of try­ing to limit the hulk­ing Onu­aku in the paint.

Onu­aku, the Best Im­port in the 2016 edi­tion, flexed his might in­side by pro­vid­ing the in­tan­gi­bles that weath­ered the trio of San Miguel big­men June Mar Fajardo, im­port Troy Gil­len­wa­ter and rookie Chris­tian Stand­hardinger.

“You can see the dif­fer­ence of hav­ing a cen­ter like Arinze on our team be­cause he helps us con­trol the mid­dle,” said Mer­alco coach Nor­man Black. “He fills a big need for us.”

—PBA IM­AGES

Ver­non Mack­lin is hop­ping to a Chi­nese league after four games with Mag­no­lia.

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