ALASKA is the lone unbeaten team in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup but faces its toughest test yet Saturday when it tackles a winless Barangay Ginebra side rejuvenated by the arrival of new import Vernon Macklin.
The people of Tubod, Lanao del Norte get the first crack at seeing the highly-touted Macklin play his first ever game in the league during the 6:30 p.m. encounter at the Mindanao Civic Center.
And Alaska coach Luigi Trillo is just as thrilled to see how a new import will fare with the 0-3 Kings.
“We know things won’t be the same with Ginebra, especially since the import they have now is totally different from the one they had before,” Trillo told Spin.ph on the eve of the league’s third road game this conference.
The Aces have defeated Rain or Shine, Meralco and Barako Bull one after the other en route to a perfect 3-0 record and the solo lead in the import-laden tournament.
But all that can change depending on how Macklin will click with Ginebra’s star-studded locals.
The 6-foot-10 Macklin arrived early this week and immediately joined the Kings’ practice, creating a strong impression even upon coach Alfrancis Chua.
“Mas energized `yung practice ngayon,” said Chua, who switched places with erstwhile head coach Siot Tanquingcen at the start of the New Year.
The Kings sorely lacked energy during their first three games, which saw them lose a 70-74 decision to Air21, followed by two more against Globalport (80-89) and Petron (90-105).
All three losses came when the Kings still had Herbert Hill for import. Macklin has since taken over his spot.
“Pero hindi naman lahat (ng sisi) kay Herbert Hill. Yung locals kailangang mag-contribute na rin," said Chua, whose team is mired at the bottom of the standings.
But despite the low-morale Ginebra had at the moment, Trillo believes the Kings are motivated to play well especially with Macklin in tow.
“You look at Ginebra, on paper, they have one of the strongest line-ups on paper. They just need one big guy and I think that is something their new import can provide now,” explained Trillo.
Alaska import Robert Dozier has been a steady force for the Aces, averaging 22.3 points, 16.6 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 1.3 steals in 41 minutes.
Trillo said Dozier may not be an explosive type of import, but the 6-foot-9 American gets the job done because of his hard-nosed defense and persistent work off the boards.