WHETHER Blackwater’s emergence in the PBA as a force to be reckoned with is for real or not will be known as it squares off with a starving Star squad in a Commissioner’s Cup encounter on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Elite’s 107-101 victory over perennial finalist Alaska last Friday capped the first back-to-back wins in the young history of the franchise, prompting coach Leo Isaac to believe they are starting to earn the respect of the rest of the league.
“Mas seseryosohin ka ngayon dahil kung isang baguhang team naka-register ng dalawang dikit na panalo, aba eh may konting kailangan paghahandaan,” said Isaac, whose team made the jump to the pros last year after a successful campaign in the D-League.
“From here on, maybe we can go to the next level of basketball with regards to team confidence and level of play,” he added.
Tipoff is at 4:15 p.m.
MJ Rhett towed the Elite against the Aces as the young import posted a triple-double of 18 points, 21 boards, and 10 assists, on top of two blocks and one steal in 45 minutes.
The Elite, however, are expected to get another acid test in Star, another postseason regular that’s just mired in a poor start in the midseason tournament.
The Hotshots, who are in an unusual spot at the bottom of the 12-team standings after losing their first three games, are eager to barge into the win column.
“We’re motivated,” Hotshots skipper Rafi Reavis said. “But then we get to a certain point when guys get frustrated. Frustration can bring about some negativity and that’s hard to overcome.”
“Some kind of way, we’re going to have to start in practice and bring it to the game,” the Filipino-American slotman added.
Denzel Bowles, who had 30 points and 17 boards in their loss to NLEX last Saturday in Biñan, Laguna, lead the Hotshots anew.
The Aces seek to bounce back from their defeat against Blackwater as they test Tropang TNT and its new import David Simon in the second game of the double-header at 7 o’clock.