ITS frontline may be young and inexperienced, but Blackwater coach Leo Isaac is keeping his fingers crossed the presence of veteran center Danny Ildefonso can fast-track the growth of big men JP Erram and Frank Golla in its maiden season in the Philippine Basketball Association.
“So far in two practices with us, Golla’s getting lectures from the veteran big men,” said Isaac of the former Ateneo back-up center, who’s being trained by Ildefonson and journeyman power forward Brian Faundo.
Isaac is aware there are those who questioned the team’s decision to choose the 6-foot-4 Golla ahead of Fil-Am and heralded San Beda stalwart Kyle Pascual during the last Annual Rookie Draft.
But the Blackwater coach pointed out that Golla is a legitimate center who the team needs especially when going up against teams with talented big men such as San Miguel Beer (June Mar Fajardo) and Ginebra (Greg Slaughter).
Pascual, who ended up with fellow expansion Kia Motors after being drafted a notch lower than Golla, is more of a power forward.
“Frank Golla is more of an inside player than Kyle, though admittedly, at that point (of the draft), nag-uusap din talaga kami (coaching staff) sa table before ending up choosing Golla,” Isaac told Spin.ph on Wednesday.
Golla was the team’s second-round pick (23rd overall) during the draft, though Blackwater later added former UP Fighting Maroon center Raul Soyud in the third round as a possible insurance.
Blackwater’s other rookie selections include former Ateneo point guard Juami Tiongson (first round, 12th), bulky guard Brian Heruela (26th), Maclean Sabellina (27th), Perpetual Help gunner Juneric Baloria (30th), Clark Bautista (35th), and Reneford Ruaya (36th).
“I like the composition of our team as an expansion franchise. But for us, what’s important is we become more competitive as we work this offseason,” said Isaac, who is marking his return to pro league coaching since handling Barako Bull in the 2008-09 Fiesta Conference.
The Elite currently have nine players who are assured of slots for the team’s first ever PBA season led by veterans Paul Artadi, Eddie Laure, Faundo, Bambam Gamalinda, Ogie Menor, Chris Timberlake, and JR Cawaling.
Blackwater, which placed runner-up last month in a pocket tournament in Penang, Malaysia, is currently finalizing its two-year offer to Ildefonso.