REACHING a PBA D-League Finals for the first time is quite a feat, but Blackwater's Allan Mangahas hardly had time to celebrate as he turned his focus on a bigger problem awaiting them.
How to beat powerhouse NLEX in the Finals.
"Syempre masaya kasi first time namin nakapasok ng Finals," said Mangahas after scoring 22 points in Blackwater Sports' 82-74 win over Boracay Rum in the deciding Game Three of their Foundation Cup semifinal series at the Blue Eagle Gym on Thursday.
"But then kailangan namin paghandaan talaga ang NLEX kasi malakas 'yung team nila."
Mangahas, of course, knows the odds Blackwater is facing in the best-of-three championship series kicking off on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Road Warriors have lorded it over the developmental league since its birth in 2011, winning all four championships so far, most of them not even close.
If oddsmakers are right, Blackwater will just go the way of Cebuana Lhuillier, Freego Jeans, Big Chill, and Cagayan Valley which all faced NLEX in previous title series - with all coming up short.
Mangahas, however, is unfazed, as he remained firm in his belief that hard work, teamwork, and most of all heart will enable the Elite to overcome the odds.
"Importante talaga (na makuha) ang Game One kaya (aayusin namin ang) defense. Kailangan din namin mag tulung-tulong, kailangan 'yung puso andoon, work hard lang at syempre i-enjoy 'yung game," said the former Mapua Cardinal.
"Mag focus lang at 'wag mang-gigil sa game para ma-limit namin 'yung mga mali."