VERNON Macklin is tired and all banged up, but he's ready to do whatever it takes to lead Barangay Ginebra to the championship.
Macklin was at the receiving end of hard contact, including what Ginebra coach Al Chua claimed were "cheap shots" against him. But the import kept his cool and kept moving forward in leading the Gin Kings to a 104-101 win over Talk 'N Text in Game Four on Friday night.
“Now I’m used to it (PBA physicality) right now. I just have to keep my head and play cool and just play hard,” said the former Florida Gator center who hit a PBA career-high 37 points on 11-of-17 shooting while going 15-of-19 from the line in the win that levelled the best-of-five series to 2-all.
Chua had accused Talk 'N Text defenders of playing dirty, claiming Ranidel de Ocampo deliberately hit Macklin in the groin. He also accused Ryan Reyes of punching the hard-working import, who Chua claimed was also the recepient of a head butt during Game Four.
But except for one instance when Macklin shoved de Ocampo and was called for a flagrant foul, Chua praised his import for keeping his composure.
"Vernon is not reacting," he said.
For Macklin, all that matters is repaying Chua's faith and leading Ginebra to the Finals.
“Coach wanted to put the ball into my hands and I want to play strong and win this game. So this win is really huge for us,” he said.
“We just want to come out strong and physical because they played very physical against us (in Game Three). We had to bounce back and get our run and play with aggressiveness.”