AFTER enduring hot conditions at the Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Barangay Ginebra import Vernon Macklin is ready to turn on the heat as far as his game is concerned.
“Yeah that’s the hottest gym I played in my life,” Macklin said with a smile, three days after making his debut in the Gin Kings' 69-84 loss to Alaska in the PBA Commissioner's Cup out-of-town game.
“My teammates and coaches told me how hot the gym was (going to be over there). But they did a great job of making sure to hydrate me and ice me up.”
The 6-10 former Florida Gator wasn't all that bad as he finished with 16 points and 20 rebounds, but he appeared to have lost steam toward the end as he finished with a single basket in the final quarter.
Macklin now hopes to put up a better showing at the airconditioned Smart Araneta Coliseum when the Gin Kings try to arrest a four-game winless start to the tournament in a game against in-form Barako Bull.
The import, though, is well aware that it won’t be easy.
“I’m very excited to play in front of these fans. We just need to go out and play harder, take those open shots and make the open shots,” Macklin told Spin.ph as he made his way out of the Xavier gym after practice.
"As long as we play hard, we’ll be pretty fine."
Ginebra’s veteran playmaker LA Tenorio said Macklin’s built and athleticism fill the team’s need for a legitimate big guy, who can be intimidating on defense and dominate the rebounds.
“One positive thing sa team is we have an import who’s really big. Big help siya sa amin because I believe he can dominate the game,” Tenorio said.
“Yung last game kasi namin, mainit lang talaga yung gym so adjustment iyan sa part niya.”
Jayjay Helterbrand, on the other hand, said Macklin's presence gives Ginebra the opportunity to play an inside-outside game.
“We’re gonna try to go inside as much as we can but at the same time, we can’t depend on him too much or he’ll get tired. We just need to knock down our shots also when we’re open,” said Helterbrand.