THE problem with having an ineffective import like Herbert Hill goes beyond the shots he couldn't make, the rebounds he couldn't get his hands on, or the drives from opposing players which he couldn't stop.
It goes all the way to the psyche, and morale, of his teammates.
“Kung mapapansin mo 80 percent ng mga jump shots namin nagmimintis. Si Mark (Caguioa) and recently, si LA (Tenorio) pa lang ang pumuputok … bakit?" asked Ginebra coach Alfrancis Chua.
“Kasi wala silang kumpiyansa … Walang re-rebound. Yung dati naming import hindi mo gaano maasahan sa ilalim.”
All that is about to change however, following the arrival on Monday of Vernon Macklin, Hill's replacement who, judging from what he has shown so far in practice, is expected to be a more dominating presence inside the paint.
Chua immediately liked what he saw the moment the 26-year-old Macklin suited up for his first full day of practice with the team, not only with the former Detroit Piston's skills but the effect his arrival had on the rest of the Kings.
“Mas energized `yung practice ngayon,” he said.
(Watch Vernon Macklin in practice with Ginebra below in this video courtesy of PTV-4)
But the fiery mentor said he’s not entirely putting the blame on the 6-foot-10 Hill, stressing the locals too, had their shortcomings in a sorry start that saw the league's most popular team lose its first three games in the mid-season Commissioner's Cup.
“Pero hindi naman lahat (ng sisi) kay Herbert Hill. Yung locals kailangang mag-contribute na rin," said Chua.
But with Macklin's arrival, Chua said there is no more excuse for Ginebra not to turn this campaign around.
"Hindi ko sila masisisi sa last import namin, pero ngayon wala na silang excuses," said the pony-tailed mentor. "They need to contribute and play together.”
Veteran forward Rudy Hatfield also believed Macklin may just be what the doctor ordered for Ginebra.
“He looks like the kind of guy that our team needs. He’s big and strong, inside presence, deep sealer, he looks like a monster off the boards. I’m pretty excited to see once he gets his legs in,” Hatfield said.
But he also agreed with his coach, pointing out the `locals are still the ones who’s gonna win or lose games.’
“There are a few games where imports will dominate or outplay each other, but usually they (imports) are gonna cancel each other out," said the 35-year-old bruiser.
For much of the season, Hatfield rued Ginebra has been consistently inconsistent.
“Last conference, we won the first two (games), lost four, won three, lost two ... so hopefully we don’t continue that kind of thing,” said Hatfield. “Hopefully this three-game losing streak is the most we’d lose this conference.
“But we’ve been here before, we know how to come back and win multiple games in a row.”
The energetic forward said it's time for the team to live up to its reputation as a never-say-die team.
“We got that spirit - that ‘never-say-die’ spirit. That’s what where gonna bring for the rest of the conference,” said Hatfield. “I know that every time we get to this (low) point, this team usually wakes up. And sometimes we need that wake-up call.
"And it seems to happen too many times more often than you want. But this is a wake-up call for us.”