FORMER Ginebra import Vernon Macklin quietly slipped into town last Saturday, but he's not making a PBA comeback.
At least, not in the immediate future.
Instead, the high-flying former Florida Gators standout has been tapped to reinforce Philippine representitive Mighty Sports in the Jones Cup tournament in Chinese-Taipei which gets going this weekend.
“We are happy to have made him sign and play for us. Macklin is a legend among diehard PBA fans, especially those of Ginebra,” said Jean Alabanza, team manager of Mighty Sports, in confirming Macklin's signing.
Alabanza bared that since they are having a hard time in forming a Philippine team, Mighty Sports was forced to recruit seven reinforcements to beef up a local lineup made up of former PBA cagers Sunday Salvacion, Larry Rordiguez and TY Tang, Rain or Shine reserve Jeric Teng, amateur standout Edric Ferrer and Fil-foreign ABL star Jason Brickman.
Mighty initially wanted Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Ferrer, but sources said the two did not get clearance from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), which is grooming the former college stars to spearhead the new Gilas cadets team.
Joining Macklin in the seven-import squad are former Barako Bull reinforcement Michael Singletary, Zach Graham (Air 21), KBL mainstay Dewarick Spencer, Senegalese star Hamadi N’Diaye, former NLEX import Al Thornton and Turkish league veteran Troy Gillenwater.
Well-known import agent Sheryl Reyes was one of the architects of the Mighty Sports team by bringing in Thornton, N’Diaye and Macklin.
Alabanza hopes that they will perform well in the Jones Cup, one of the longest-running and most prestigious tournaments in Asia which the Philippines has won four times, the last in 2012 with a Gilas Pilipinas team led by eventual tournament MVP LA Tenorio.
The soft-spoken Mighty Sports executive said the next four days of practice will be crucial in their bid to bring home the title.
“We’re still tryiong to get the groove of the team. We’ll have four more days before we fly to Taiwan, where we will play their national team the day after,” he said
“But we have a lot of veterans in the team and the fact that we brought in seven imports, it should reflect how we mean business in our sojourn,” said Alabanza, who was non-committal on the television coverage of the games.
Previous stints by the Philippine team in the Jones Cup were aired by TV5.
“Sa ngayon, wala pang finality yung TV coverage, pero we’re doing everything para magkaruon, pero sa ngayon, wala pa,” said Alabanza.