BLACKWATER is not about to let its guard down against defending champion San Miguel even in the absence of top point guard Alex Cabagnot in their PBA Philippine Cup showdown on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Head coach Leo Isaac said Cabagnot missing the 4:15 p.m. encounter that marks the resumption of the all-Filipino conference following a week-long break will be a good break for the Elite.
But that shouldn’t give the Elite the excuse to take things easy against the defending champion.
“That’s only one player. We still have to worry about the other players on that strong team,” said the Elite mentor.
According to team manager Gee Abanilla, Cabagnot suffered a depressed nasal facture in the Beermen’s 101-86 win over Merallco during the final playdate of the league in 2016.
Cabagnot attended San Miguel’s practice on Tuesday although the swelling in his nose – caused by a hard tackle dished out by Cliff Hodge - has yet to subside.
Conservative estimate will have him ready for the team’s highly-anticipated rematch with Barangay Ginebra on Sunday, meaning he’ll likely skip the game against Blackwater.
The veteran guard will also be wearing a protective mask to cover his injured nose.
Isaac though, would rather not rely on the health condition of Cabagnot as Blackwater prepares against the reigning champion, which is on top of the standings with a 5-1 record.
“Friday pa game namin,” he stressed, obviously hinting anything can still happen within the next two days before their Friday match.
But he doesn’t deny the fact a San Miguel team without Cabagnot is one less problem for the Elite.
“If it’s true, then we eliminate one of SMB’s players who can be a headache for us if he is playing,” he said.
The Elite (4-3) are coming off a heartbreaking 97-93 Christmas Day overtime loss to Mahindra in a game played at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, The Floodbuster rallie back from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to pull off their first win in the conference.