BLACKWATER Sports is set to compete in a tournament in Penang, Malaysia to build the confidence of free agent pick-ups which it hopes would form the backbone of its team in its PBA debut next season.
Blackwater owner Dioceldo Sy said the team's stint in the six-team, five-nation pocket tournament dubbed 'Penang Chief Minister Cup International Championships’ from July 25-29 will give the players the needed exposure ahead of their PBA debut.
At the same time, games against teams from Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, India, and Australia will give Blackwater the chance to see the free agents show their wares and prove their worth.
“As you can see, we are working on a limited concession given to us (by the PBA board). Everybody knows the players available to us are mostly free agents and those recently dropped to the dispersal draft by the existing teams,” said Sy.
“So karamihan sa mga yan mga hindi nagagamit ng team nila, bagsak ang morale. So hopefully with the Malaysian trip, we can help these players gain back their confidence and self-esteem,” added the Ever Bilena Cosmetics president.
Bannering the team are D-League mainstays Bacon Austria, Allan Mangahas, Hyram Bagatsing, Gilbert Bulawan, Gio Ciriacruz, Pari Llagas and Paul Zamar.
Rookie applicants Jerico Cruz, Juami Tiongson, and Raul Soyud are also part of the entourage beefed up by PBA veterans Eddie Laure, Bambam Gamalinda, and comebacking Aris Dimaunahan.
Blackwater Sports team governor Silliman Sy disclosed the players the team recently tabbed in the last dispersal draft like top pick Danny Ildefonso, were not included in the Malaysian trip as the deadline for submission of roster already lapsed some three weeks ago.
“Hindi na namin sila na-i-line-up kasi a month ago pa humingi ng deadline ang organizers,” said the younger Sy.
Ildefonso was initially eyed to join his future teammates in the trip, but the 37-year-old Pangasinense’s passport is due to expire.
“Three months kasi expired na passport niya, hindi na pwede gamitin yun. If he’ll apply, baka hindi na rin umabot,” said the Ever Bilena COO.
“This is part of our screening process. Dito na namin pipiliin 'yung mananatili sa amin from our D-League team, tapos dun na namin i-decide `yung idagdag from the dispersal at yung makukuha namin sa draft,” said Johnson Martines, Blackwater Sports team manager.