WITH top playmaker Jeric Fortuna moving up the pro ranks, Blackwater will be relying on Allan Mangahas to run the plays as they begin a new campaign.
The Elite face Café France in the first game of a in PBA D-League Foundation Cup tripleheader starting at 12 p.m. at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
With Fortuna at point, Mangahas had less playmaking responsibilities and at times shared the scoring load with the Elite's main gunners.
But the job of main playmaker is nothing new for Mangahas and he also has a good grasp of the Elite system having played for Leo Isaac at Mapua.
There may be a some pressure on Mangahas after Fortuna led Blackwater to a semifinal finish in the Aspirants Cup before signing with the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League.
But Isaac is confident in his court general, who incidentally had also previously played in the ABL for San Miguel.
“I think the team will be in good hands under the leadership of Allan,” said Isaac. “He knows his teammates well.”
Kevin Ferrer, a candidate for the Best Player awardee last conference, returns for another tour of duty with the Elite, who also recruited Bacon Austria, Ajeet Singh, and Allan’s brother James Mangahas in its bid to bounce back after getting booted out of the semifinals.
Café France, meanwhile, had trouble trying to beef up the roster led by Jens Knuttel and Mike Parala in between conferences and coach Egay Macaraya is just hoping they could keep up with the strong teams.
“I really have no idea right now,” said Macaraya when asked to size up his team.
“We’re a new and young team because we can’t find recruits who would like to play for us.”
Café France made headlines last conference when it ended NLEX’s win run at 24 but the squad but a string of losses booted the Bakers out of quarterfinal contention.
In other matches, Jumbo Plastic and Boracay Rum look to recover from opening day losses as they face separate opponents.
The Linoleum Giants take on fellow newcomers Hogs Breath Café Razorbacks at 2 p.m. while the Waves test the mettle of new-look Informatics at 4 p.m.
Facing the Linoleum Giants are the Razorbacks led by Jonathan Belorio and Kevin Racal from Letran and coached by Joel Jabar.
Informatics stepped up its bid to improve on its 1-9 win-loss slate last conference when they acquired UST star Jeric Teng and Letran big man Jam Cortes. Also in the Icons’ line-up are Mike Gamboa, Moncrief Rogado, Rocky Acidre, and Nate Matute.