For family, Vernon Macklin leaves Magnolia to play in Chinese league

MANILA, Philippines – There are just things bigger than basketball.

Just 3 games in, import Vernon Macklin will drop out of the Magnolia Hotshots' campaign in the PBA Commissioner's Cup after securing a guaranteed contract in China's National Basketball League (NBL).  And it's a decision hinged on his family, he said. 

"I came here with these guys to start the season. I wanted to finish the season with these guys. But I got somebody to take care of and I got to do some things for my family," said the American import.

Discounting the slim 87-88 loss to the Phoenix Fuel Masters in their conference opener, the Hotshots have hit their stride with Macklin reinforcing them.

Magnolia defeated a tough GlobalPort Batang Pier side, 92-87, for its first win before thwarting the Columbian Dyip by 25 points, 126-101, on Wednesday, May 16. 

In those 3 games, the 6-foot-10 former NBA player averaged 21 points and 12.7 rebounds, both team-highs. 

But Macklin's run with Magnolia will end on Friday, May 18, against the Meralco Bolts as he heads to the NBL, a minor league in China considered as second-tier to the Chinese Basketball Association. 

Still, the 31-year-old wants to keep his focus on his final game with the Hotshots. 

"Right now I'm still with the Hotshots, so I don't want to speak on that situation. Right now, I'm just going to continue playing for Purefoods."

Macklin will go up against another former NBA player in Arinze Onuaku in his last game and vows to leave a lasting mark.

"It (doesn't) matter if it's the first game or if it is the last game. I'm definitely going to play hard for my team, for the Hotshots, and for myself." –

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.