PRESSURE was on for Abu Tratter to make up for JP Erram's absence at Blackwater after a wild sequence of offseason trades for the team.
Tratter was quick to show he belonged.
The former La Salle slotman scored 18 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and had two blocks in his PBA debut, proving he can fill the void at center after Blackwater gave up Erram in a trade with NLEX to get Tratter and fellow rookie Paul Desiderio.
The No. 7 pick of the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft acknowledged the huge expectations on his shoulders, but remained focused on the goals he set for himself.
"I have my own individual goals as well as filling in the blanks JP Erram had," he said. "Coming into the game I was level-headed. I knew what I needed to do. Coach told me what my assignment was and I executed it."
Tratter couldn't save Blackwater from falling to NorthPort, 117-91 on Wednesday night in their 2019 PBA Philippine Cup debut, but he asked fans to cut the rejigged, youth-laden Elite some slack.
"It's just a collective unit of humble people. They put in a lot of work in the gym and with a team like that - we haven't even went to any team buildings, yet for us to have great chemistry - I think that with more games coming ahead, we'll be able to jell more and have better chemistry," he said.
On a personal note, Tratter shared his excitement about battling PBA bigs like NorthPort's Sean Anthony and Mo Tautuaa.
"It's exciting," Tratter said, admitting he looks forward to taking on former Gilas Pilipinas teammate June Mar Fajardo in Blackwater's game against San Miguel on February 6.
"I'm waiting for that June Mar game just because that's the bar you wanna set. He's at his peak, he's also one of the most talented big men in history. I wanna be able to see how well I go up against a talent like that."