ANTIPOLO CITY, Rizal --- Magnolia was ready to replace Romeo Travis as import.
Up 2-1 in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup semifinals against Ginebra, Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero revealed that they had Ben Mbala on standby as Travis dealt with a grade 2 hamstring sustained in Game 3.
Victolero said that Travis couldn't even walk Thursday and if Magnolia were to lose Game 4 Friday at the Ynares Center here, Mbala was ready to step in for the deciding Game 5 if Travis can't physically go.
Victolero says Mbala is in the country for vacation after his stint in the Korean Basketball League ended.
The former La Salle star and UAAP MVP was replaced by Phoenix import Eugene Phelps with the Seoul Samsung Thunders.
"It's a grade 2 hamstring injury. Since yesterday hirap na siya pero tinignan siya ni Dr. Canlas yesterday afternoon and he had clearance this morning," Victolero said on Travis' status.
"I talked to Romeo yesterday and said that I will need a backup and he approved that if he can't play today or Sunday, yun ang next option. Si Ben [Mbala] nandito. Galing siya Korea and wala na kaming choice," Victolero added.
Travis ended up playing in Game 4 and he delivered a career-high 50 points.
The Hotshots don't need a Game 5 anymore as Travis' first-ever 50-ball is more than enough for Magnolia to move on to the Finals after a 3-1 series win over the Gin Kings.
"Yung puso ng import ko, grabe wala akong masabi," Victolero said.
"Di makalakad yan kahapon. [But] I trust him, I believe in him. After that Game 3 ibibigay niya lahat, I love this guy. From the beginning, ibang klaseng leadership binigay niya sa akin," he added.
This story was originally published on the ABS-CBN Sports website.