The Magnolia Hotshots try to sustain their perfect run even as they brace for a tough battle against an NLEX side that unveils a new import in Stokley Chaffee Jr. in their Friday face-off at the PhilSports Arena.
Robinson took a vacation in Boracay after a verbal clash with NorthPort governor Erick Arejola and team manager Pido Jarencio last Nov. 22.
The lone remaining unbeaten team in PBA Season 48 Commissioner's Cup, the Hotshots target win No. 5 while the Road Warriors eye a triumphant first outing with Chaffee, a 26-year-old stud out of Tennessee State.
A replacement to Thomas Robinson who carried the Road Warriors to a 2-2 record, Chaffee is bringing with him a wealth of international basketball experience with his tours of duty in Cyprus and Finland.
Robinson didn't do badly in a PBA showing marked by victories over San Miguel Beer and NorthPort.
"Thomas Robinson's departure from the NLEX Road Warriors was a difficult but necessary decision. We value discipline, commitment and teamwork, and unfortunately, his taking an unplanned vacation, and skipping team practices, compromised these principles," said team manager Larry Fonacier.
"The team's success depends on a collective effort and a shared commitment, and we will continue to uphol;d these standards as we forge ahead in the season," Fonacier also said.
Chaffee has had three days of practices with the Road Warriors since arriving in the country Monday, with great enthusiasm to show his stuff in the PBA.
"I'm really happy and excited. It's something new for me. I wouldn't say it's pressure, but rather high expectatioopns. There are expectations from me not only on the court but also off the court, and obviously, to win. I hope I can meet those expectations," said Chaffee.
Chaffee, however, has a job cut out for him in his PBA debut where he will be up against Magnolia's Tyler Bey, easily among the best performing imports in the tourney thus far.
Bey averages 29.3 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists, with a last showing of 31 markers and 10 boards in their 93-91 decision over the Barangay Ginebra Kings in their Manila Clasico tiff on Nov. 19.
Coach Chito Victolero's troops are well-rested going to the battle versus the Road Warriors.(SB)