THE last time Vernon Macklin and Jerome Jordan faced off on April 14, it was anything but close. Jordan came away with 23 points and 17 rebounds in his Talk 'N Text debut while holding his Barangay Ginebra counterpart to 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting in a 100-86 Texters victory.
Still, Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua has no doubt in his mind that Macklin will be a lot more competitive against Jordan when the two imports square off again in a best-of-five Commissioner's Cup semifinal series beginning on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“He’s (Macklin) a fighter," said Chua of his import. "Nung araw naman na 'yun (na kalaban ang Talk ‘N Text) wala lang talaga siya sa timing."
Macklin's big fighting heart was none more evident than in the sudden-death game against Rain or Shine on Monday where, despite playing with leaden feet in the final stretch after playing all of 39 minutes, he still came up with two big plays that turned the tide in the Kings' favor.
First the Ginebra import, a career 47-percent free-throw shooter in the PBA, went 2-for-2 from the foul line with 14 seconds to go. Next he came up with a big block on a driving Jeff Chan that preserved the 81-79 win over the Painters.
"I’ve been telling him kahit nagmi-miss siya ng free throws, I’ll stick with you,” Chua said.
The two teams actually split their two meetings in the elimination round - Ginebra won their first face-off, 107-100, last March 16 - but Chua is bracing for a bigger battle against Talk 'N Text because of one reason.
“We’re facing a champion team in Talk ‘N Text,” Chua told Spin.ph.
Still, Chua warned that Ginebra can't be counted out, pointing out how the league's most popular ballclub has overcome a 0-4 start to the conference as well as huge odds against a twice-to-beat Rain or Shine side in the quarterfinals.
“Wala namang magbabago sa laro namin. After a 0-4 start, then making it to the semis, malaking blessing iyun," said the pony-tailed coach. "Ang puso kasi di nate-train iyan. Di rin nakukuha sa scouting report lang iyan so we’ll keep playing hard.”