Magnolia’s Ben Mbala plans shelved as Romeo Travis pushes past hamstring strain
ANTIPOLO—Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero was the personification of emotion when he led his team to a 112-108 Game 4 win against defending champion Barangay Ginebra to advance to the finals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Victolero, sweaty forehead and all, had one hell of a sigh when the Hotshots took the semifinal series in four games especially with the Hotshots playing with two injured stars in their lineup.
Import Romeo Travis just recovered from a grade 2 strain on his left hamstring while Paul Lee was nursing a sore right knee in their final game against the Gin Kings and this prompted Victolero to almost replace his foreign reinforcement.
Victolero’s potential emergency import for Travis was former La Salle center Ben Mbala.
“I talked to Romeo yesterday morning that I will need a backup and he approved that if he can’t play today or on Sunday the backup will play,” said Victolero Friday at Ynares Center here.
Mbala is in the Philippines having his vacation after his stint in the Korean Basketball League with Seoul Samsung Thunders and Victolero took the opportunity to have Magnolia team manager Juno Sauler, once a head coach of La Salle, contact the former Green Archer.
“Ben’s here for vacation and our only choice for an import is one here in Asia because if he came from the United States he won’t make it with all the papers and all,” said Victolero. “So we just tried to get an import who’s here and this is just an emergency and you know it was God’s will that we won.”
Victolero added that he would eventually stick with Travis since the finals won’t begin until December 5.
This long break will give Travis the time to recover and hopefully make it to the finals in top condition.
“Hopefully Romeo’s fully recovered but that’s still a grade 2 hamstring strain so I hope that it wasn’t aggravated and this break will help him rest his injury,” said Victolero in Filipino.
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