VERNON Macklin is set to take his leave from Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok by Friday. But not before making sure he will be remembered in a good way.
Playing in his penultimate game before fulfilling a previous commitment in China, Macklin went to work early and keyed the Hotshots' 126-101 victory Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Macklin keyed a fiery start with 11 of his team-high 19 points before the other Hotshots took over and stretched the lead to as much as 111-73, early in the fourth quarter.
In the end, Magnolia emerged with a second straight win and improved to a 2-1 record overall while dropping Columbian to an even 3-3 slate.
"Pinag-usapan lang namin before the game to respect our opponent kasi two of their last three games maganda inilalaro nila," related Hotshots coach Chito Victolero.
?t was battle between their offense and our defense," added Victolero. "We matched up their three guards against our three guards and maganda naman naging resulta."
Indeed, Magnolia's Paul Lee, Jio Jalalon and Mark Barroca outplayed Columbian's Rashawn McCarthy, Reden Celda and Jerramy King in the times they were ranged against each other and fueled the Hotshots' steady surge from the first quarter on.
The end result was definitely less than the 36.25 average winning margin Magnolia has over the team formerly alternately known as Kia and Mahindra in their last four meetings.
Helping make it happen are Ian Sangalang's 18 points, the 17 apiece by Lee and Barroca, Aldrech Ramos'12 and Jalalon's 11.
Macklin sat out the fourth quarter as part of Victolero's ploy to reserve his key players for the Bolts game.
"Back-to-back kami and we have an elite team, Meralco, next," said Victolero. "We need to prepare hard so dapat lang sigurong ipahinga sila ng konti."
John Fields had game-highs of 22 points and 19 rebounds to lead Columbian, which failed to follow up its 104-96 shocker over Rain or Shine last Friday.
Only McCarthy and King provided ample help, however, as the two combined for 31 points for the Dyip who went 36-for-93 from the field to the Hotshots' torrid 49-for-85 clip.
Magnolia also won the battle off the boards, 52-47, and had more assists 28-17.(NC)