BLACKWATER may be one of three teams currently in the cellar a week since the PBA Philippine Cup opened shop.
But Meralco coach Norman Black swears he and the Bolts are not about to take the expansion franchise lightly when the two teams clash in the curtain raiser of Tuesday’s scheduled doubleheader at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We want to get off to a good start because Blackwater started strong in their first two games,” said Black on the eve of their 4:15 p.m. match.
The Elite are currently at the bottom of the standings in the company of Barako Bull and defending champion Purefoods with identical 0-2 (win-loss) records.
But aware the Bolts have an experienced frontcourt manned by veteran Reynel Hugnatan, Black isn’t about to make secret their game plan of attacking Blackwater inside.
“We want to attack the basket to test their interior defense. Though one thing for sure, we cannot take Blackwater for granted,” added the 11-time league champion coach, whose team is fresh from a 118-112 double overtime win against Barako Bull behind the career-high 28 points of Hugnatan.
Expected to have their hands full against the Bolts are Blackwater’s frontline of JP Erram, Bryan Faundo, and Jason Ballesteros, who will be tested by Hugnatan and seasoned big men John Ferriols and Cliff Hodge, who pulled down 16 rebounds against the Road Warriors.
The two losses by the Elite saw them blew big leads, leading to an 80-66 loss to fellow expansion team KIA Motors on opening day, followed by an 82-75 defeat to Rain or Shine last weekend.
Sophomore wingman Alex Nuyles, who averages career-best of 9.5 points and 3.5 rebounds for the young Blackwater quintet, explained the need to trust each other in order to ensure the Elite finish the game well.
“Starting from scratch pa kami kaya we have to learn to trust each other,” said the 6-foot-2 Nuyles, who was picked by Blackwater in the dispersal draft.
“Lahat naman sa amin lisensyado tumira basta open kami, sabi lang sa amin, di na kami yung role player dati. Sa team namin, vital kami lahat, every time you are open, you take your shot.”