AN all-Filipino Blackwater Elite side flew to Penang, Malaysia on Thursday to accomplish a tough mission of winning the 2016 Penang Chief Minister International Invitational championship against import-bannered teams.
The five-day tournament kicks off on Friday with the Elite tangling with Taiwan’s Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology in the second game at 6 p.m. at the Han Chiang Indoor Stadium.
Clashing in the opening game of the annual Penang tournament are Zhejiang Chouzhou Commercial Bank-China and Thailand’s Pea Basketball Club.
A brief opening ceremony will be held at 8:40 p.m., before newly-crowned Asean Basketball League (ABL) champions Malaysia Dragons clash with India’s Karnataka State.
Each team is allowed to field two American imports but Blackwater opted to play all-Filipino in the tournament.
Blackwater coach Leo Isaac said he expects competition to be much stronger, given the opponents’ bigger reinforcements.
“By joining this tournament, we intend to sharpen the skills of the players na kailangan kapag ang kalaban mo kakaiba. Kagaya niyan, hindi natin kilala ang mga kalaban, kaya gusto natin maka-develop ng team chemistry and ma-improve yung confidence level namin,” said Isaac.
Blackwater placed second in the Penang tournament in 2014 behind the Malaysian national squad, before bowing to Nigeri Sembilan Matrix in the championship round of the Seri Mutiara Champions Cup last year in Kuala Lumpur.
Bannering Blackwater’s all-Pinoy crew are veteran playmaker Mike Cortez, fast-rising gunner Carlo Lastimosa, Reil Cervantes, big man JP Erram and newly-acquired rookie point guard Roi Sumang.