THE semifinal curse has struck Magnolia Pambansang Manok once again.
Marc Pingris and possibly, Justin Melton are likely out for the Hotshots in their ongoing PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against NLEX after suffering separate injuries during Saturday’s opener at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Pingris had an MRI scan shortly after the game and is scheduled to see renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. George Canlas on Monday.
But signs point to a possible MCL sprain on Pingris’ left knee, which meant at the most, two to three weeks of rest and thereby, overlapping the current best-of-seven series.
Magnolia team governor Rene Pardo said Pingris is 'for sure, out of the conference.'
Coach Chito Victolero said the native of Pozzorubio, Pangasinan is now back at home resting, his knee put in an immobilizer to lessen the swelling.
He added given the extent for an MCL injury to heal, the Magnolia coach ruled Pingris as probably out of the series.
“It looks like to be an MCL sprain,” he said on Sunday shortly after the Hotshots’ afternoon practice. “Bukas pa malalaman yung result ng MRI niya. Hopefully ganun lang. We pray na huwag nang ACL, kasi mas mahabang gamutan yun.”
Injuries had bugged the Hotshots in their last three semifinals stint.
Pingris missed the Commissioner’s Cup Final Four last season owing to a bad back, then Paul Lee followed suit in the Governors Cup after re-injuring his recurring knee problem.
Now, it’s Ping again, and possibly Melton.
The Fil-Am guard also went down in the series opener in what many suspect could be a pulled hamstring. He only played nine minutes and just watched the rest of Game One on the bench which the Hotshots lost, 88-87.
“Bukas naman siya scheduled for MRI. Doon malalaman yung extent ng injury niya,” said Victolero.
But Melton’s case is not as bleak as that of Pingris as he even attended Magnolia’s practice, although he didn’t participate in the scrimmage.
“Sabi ni Justin hindi naman ganun kasing sakit nung previous hamstring injury niya. So right now, we’re taking him on a day-to-day basis,” added the Hotshots mentor, whose seeing action in his fourth straight semis stint with the franchise.
While he lamented the bad timing of the injuries suffered by two of his key players, Victolero said the team couldn’t do anything about it but to go with the punches.
“Talagang kasama yan, nangyayari ang mga ganyan (injuries),” he stressed. “We just have to find ways kung paano malulusutan ito.”
“Siyempre medyo mabigat na undermanned kami,” Victolero added. “Now we’re the underdog. We just have to stick together and find a way to win.”