FACED with a hostile crowd and some tough breaks, Blackwater Sports bowed to host Malaysia, 76-82, and lost its bid for the title in the 2014 Penang Chief Minister’s International Cup in Penang, Malaysia.
The hosts, made up of players from the Malaysian national side’s Team B, banked on the heroics of American import Chris Kuete who scored 36 points including a crucial three pointer in the final 3:35 of the game that stopped a rallying Blackwater on its tracks.
Worse, Blackwater's shooters, spot-on in its first three games, suddenly turned cold, with star guard Allan Mangahas going 1-of-5 from the charity stripe and missing two inside the final five minutes.
“The game wasn’t really for us. We lost the game because of the sorry misses we had sa freethrow line. Pati mga perimeter shots natin nawala,” said Blackwater Sports head of basketball operations Mike Lim.
“Learning experience ito para sa mga players at tryout na rin para sa final roster namin na dadalhin sa PBA.”
Kuete attracted so much attention from his Filipino defenders that he was soon also able to involve his teammates like fellow American Devon Sullivan, Pinoy import Bryan Illad and seldomly used Koh Way Tek, who buried a pivotal three-pointer at the final 2:50 mark of the game.
Malaysia coach Paul Advincula, a Filipino, also employed a 2-3 zone defense in the final six minutes of the game that proved effective against the misfiring Filipinos.
“They did a good job responding to our defense, so ginawa ko nag-adjust ako ng sona. Kasi kung man to man, makaka-atake sila,” Advincula said.
“Maganda yung naging defensive ploy nila, since nag-2-3 zone sila, hindi na kami naka-score. They executed a perfect game plan against us,” said Silliman Sy, Blackwater Sports’ team governor.
“That’s basketball, we can’t win them all,” he said.
Sy acknowledged the presence of Penang-based Filipinos who came to support the team.
“Natutuwa kami kasi ang dami nating kababayan ang dumayo sa venue to support us, they’re about one-sixth of the crowd at the venue, pero their noise sounded like it was one-third of the stadium,” added the brother of Ever Bilena CEO Dioceldo Sy.
The loss was the first for the Leo Isaac-mentored team in this single round-robin tournament. The Elite close out their campaign versus Chinese Taipei on Tuesday afternoon.
“Masakit para sa amin yung talo, andun na eh. Patawid na kami (ng panalo) na-disgrasya pa,” said top gunner Paul Zamar, who rued losing a 68-66 lead before Kuete and Tek waxed hot from beyond the arc.
“Nawalan rin yung consistency namin sa game. May spurts kami pero hindi consistent. Yung Malyasia, dalawa ang imports nila kaya kailangan almost perfect ang game na laruin,” added the tournament’s three point champion.
The Penang trip is part of Blackwater Sports’ build upfor its maiden season campaign in the PBA, which opens shops on October 19.
Malaysia 82 - Kuete 36, Sullivan 16, Tek 10, Hou 8, Illad 7, Hoong 4, Ivan 1, Tee 0, Er 0, Joe 0, Seng 0
Blackwater Sports 76 - Tiongson 15, Bulawan 14, Gamalinda 12, Mangahas 11, Cruz 8, Ciriacruz 6, Austria 4, Llagas 4, Laure 2, Soyud 0, Bagatsing 0, Zamar 0
For highlights of the game, see video: