2019 PBA Philippine Cup preview: Can Blackwater reach ‘Elite’ status with new recruits?

Greek Hero scores 41 for winning Bucks

THE Blackwater Elite will welcome the new season with a rejigged roster as they try to build on their best finish in franchise history in last year’s iteration of the PBA Governors’ Cup.

Over the offseason, the team lost cagers in Nard Pinto, Paul Zamar, and JP Erram via trades. However, they were able to stock up on young guys in the presence of Ray Parks Jr., Paul Desiderio, Abu Tratter, and Diego Dario.

With head coach Bong Ramos at the helm, he will face a daunting task of mentoring and leading his youthful wards to new heights as their inexperience could get in the way.

After getting a taste of success last conference, would fans consider Blackwater as perennial playoff contenders? FOX Sports Philippines takes a preview.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM LAST CONFERENCE

Obviously, having a franchise-high of seven wins in eleven tries in the eliminations was a highlight on its own for the Dioceldo Sy-owned squad. But more than anything, it was the emergence of stalwarts Paul Zamar, Nard Pinto, and JP Erram that catapulted the team to new heights. Sharpshooters Mike DiGregorio and Allein Maliksi have been steady as well — notching scoring norms of 11.7 and 10.4 points per contest.

Bringing in resident import Henry Walker from as early as the tail end of the Commissioner’s Cup proved to have paid dividends as he has meshed seamlessly with his teammates — putting up an average of 25.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game.

Unfortunately for the Elite, they would run into the eventual champs in the Magnolia Hotshots, as they were booted out early in the quarterfinals.

NOTABLE PLAYERS

Blackwater ended up with a much younger team coming into the 2019 season with the moves that they’ve done over the course of four weeks.

Selected at No. 2 in the draft, Ray Parks Jr. would get a chance to show his wares in the PBA. However, that still remains to be seen given his ongoing stint with Alab Pilipinas.

A young nucleus consisting of Abu Tratter, Paul Desiderio, and Diego Dario would have their hands full in trying to prove themselves at the next level. But with head coach Bong Ramos’ hands-on approach and retooled coaching staff, for sure their transition to the pros would be much easier.

The troika of Belo, DiGregorio, Maliksi are to be expected to carry much of the load on both ends. Their veteran leadership would be vital as well for the Elite.

TEAM OUTLOOK

From the outside looking in, fans are left to wonder as to why the Elite seems to hit the reset button every time they’re on to something special. Either that, or something unfortunate happens — like frontliner Rabeh Al-Hussaini going AWOL once again, putting a dent to their interior.

Coach Bong Ramos was often seen in practices emphasizing in doing the “little things” in order to give themselves a better chance on winning. Especially now without a reinforcement, that may be the difference between winning and losing.

“I think it’s what we need right now especially we’re a young team. I think it’s more fitting to have Coach Bong (Ramos) really be preachy and into the small details because it’s what’s going to help us in the long run, especially since we lack the experience. Paying attention to details is going to be an advantage to us,” said Blackwater guard Ael Banal.

(Image from PBA)
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