STILL struggling as a team, Blackwater failed to keep in step with the athletic, high-energy game of the visiting Athletes in Action and suffered a 114-61 beating in a friendly on Saturday at the St. Stephens Elementary gym in Tondo, Manila.
Blackwater coach Leo Isaac said the 53-point beating easily exposed the team’s lack of chemistry, conditioning, and confidence of a lineup made up mostly of the expansion team's pick-ups from the last dispersal draft led by two-time league MVP Ildefonso.
“Itong grupo na ito nagkaroon kami ng first official practice kahapon (Friday), tapos laro kami ngayon. So I told them, we’re really starting from scratch, at sabi ko lang, try to get the feel of the game, try to get your confidence back, and see where we’ll end up,” Isaac told Spin.ph shortly after the match played before a packed gymnasium.
Journeyman center Bryan Faundo, who played six games with Barangay Ginebra last season, led the Elite with 13 points, while Ildefonso added 11.
The visiting AIA squad, made up of college players from US NCAA Division 1 schools, drew 20 points from Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher, while Traevon Jackson along with Texas A&M University standout Alex Caruso added 13 apiece.
Isaac acknowledged his team still has a lot to work on since most of them were bench warmers from their respective PBA teams last season.
“Okay lang yan (lopsided loss) sabi ko. At least alam natin individually, kulang na kulang tayo, wala sa kundisyon, kinakalawang, saka as a group, yung chemistry di pa natin kilala ang isa’t isa,” explained Isaac, who guided Blackwater's D-League team to a runner-up finish in the 2014 Penang Chief Minister’s International Cup in Penang, Malaysia early this week.
The former Ginebra guard-turned-coach added the Elite will take the time to build on the team for the next two and a half months, with the goal of forming a cohesive unit ready to compete when the league’s 40th season kicks off on October 19.
“Maybe we have time to work on our mistakes though, I just would like to get your cooperation, sabi ko sa mga players, especially during practice. Full concentration tayo kasi alam naman natin ang mga kalaban sa PBA magagaling talaga at malalakas,” he said.
Blackwater currently has 18 players in practice, a mixture of walk-ins and draftees from the dispersal pool.