NOW it’s Blackwater’s turn to likely miss the services of one of its key players when the PBA kicks off the Philippine Cup for its 45th season next week.
The Elite will be without big man Mac Belo in the early part of the season-opening conference as the four-year forward is set seek treatment on a knee injury that has long been bothering him.
Belo is scheduled to undergo a minor operation that could sideline him for about a month or two months at the maximum.
The all-Filipino conference opens on March 8 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, but Blackwater won’t play its first game until March 14 in Balanga, Bataan against Barangay Ginebra.
The injured knee has kept Belo out of action for the Elite in offseason games and even from the Gilas Pilipinas pool that saw action in the opening window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Indonesia on Sunday.
Blackwater has yet to issue an official statement on the health status of its star player.
Belo is the latest big man to be sidelined going to the new season after San Miguel Beer’ June Mar Fajardo, Raymond Almazan of Meralco, and Barangay Ginebra’s Joe Devance.
Greg Slaughter of Barangay Ginebra will also miss out the opening conference – or the entire season – following his decision to take a break from playing.
With Belo out, focus will be more on rookie center Maurice Shaw, who was expected to form a big frontcourt tandem with the former Far Eastern University stalwart.
Also out for the Elite in the first few weeks of the Philippine Cup is Carl Bryan Cruz, who also underwent minor surgery during the off-season.