After scoring their first win of the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Saturday against GlobalPort Batang Pier, the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok now return to the drawing board as import Vernon Macklin will be playing his last game for them in their next contest against the Meralco Bolts on May 18.
Macklin's agent Sheryl Reyes announced on Twitter that the two-time PBA import received a guaranteed contract from a team competing in China's National Basketball League.
It's an unfortunate development for the Hotshots as the team that lost in the Philippine Cup Finals to the San Miguel Beermen were hoping that Macklin, who led Barangay Ginebra to the 2013 Commissioner's Cup Finals, would be the piece they needed to win another title.
Macklin arrived while the Hotshots were still competing against the Beermen for the championship so he saw firsthand what the squad was missing. Being one of the first imports to arrive in the country was huge for their chemistry, but they'll now need to adjust to a new player.
In the past editions of the Commissioner's Cup, Magnolia employed Ricardo Ratliffe, Denzel Bowles, Daniel Orton, Marqus Blakely, and James Mays, who helped them win it all in 2014. Magnolia had a lot of interest in Ratliffe, who was with them last season, but he has since been naturalized by South Korea, preventing him from playing as an import elsewhere.
In their first game against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, Macklin had 25 points, 17 rebounds, and three assists. He shot 60 percent from the field but was limited to only two points in the fourth quarter when their opponents turned the game around.
He shot poorly from the field against GlobalPort but still finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. The Magnolia locals played well enough in that contest to get their first win. Macklin will play two more games for the Hotshots. They'll face the Columbian Dyip -- featuring the highest-scoring import in John Fields -- and then he'll battle former Best Import awardee Arinze Onuaku and the rest of the Bolts.
Luckily for the Hotshots, they'll have a long break after the back-to-back assignments during the PBA All-Star Week. Their next game isn't until June 2 when they play the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.