Had the Manila Clasico series in the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals gone to the limit, the Magnolia Hotshots wouldn’t be using Romeo Travis.
Head coach Chito Victolero himself admitted that the Hotshots would be using Ben Mbala instead, as the 33-year-old Travis is currently hounded by a grade two hamstring injury, which he incurred back in Game Three two nights ago.
The former De La Salle Green Archers star is currently in the country for vacation, as his contract with the Seoul Samsung Thunders in the Korean Basketball League is already up. He was replaced by PBA import Eugene Phelps.
‘We have a back-up na import ready to play on Sunday,” said the second-year Hotshots mentor.
“Si Ben Mbala.”
Victolero said that they might have secured the services of of the two-time UAAP Most Valuable Player, as he is the only one currently available, since getting a reinforcement beyond Asia would be a tedious job for the Hotshots’ front office due to the paperwork.
“Ang choice lang namin is an import which is in Asia kasi if we get an import galing from the US, hindi aabot, with the papers, everything, lahat. So we just tried to get an import na malapit lang dito sa Asia,” said Victolero.
“Pang-emergency lang naman yun.”
But sadly, an Mbala sighting in the PBA won’t happen this season. Travis played through the pain and even dropped 50 points to lead the Hotshots to a 112-108 victory in Game Four, Friday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
The Hotshots march on to the Finals as they have dethroned the Gin Kings from their two-year reign. The title bout will commence less than three weeks from now, and that might be enough time for Travis to recover.
“Ben Mbala sana. But you know, nakalusot kami ngayon.”