AS part of the popular Ginebra team during the days of playing-coach Robert Jaworski, Leo Isaac got used to playing games before big crowds.
And now that his Blackwater team is set to play before what could be the biggest number of fans in Philippine basketball history, his first order of business is to try and calm the nerves of his boys when they practiced at the Philippine Arena – considered the biggest dome in the world.
“Individually, di mo maaalis for some players na ma-overwhelm sila sa dami ng tao, pero kaya kami nag-ensayo sa gym (Philippine Arena), para kahit paano eh magamay na nila `yung court, `yung goal kung matigas ba, saka maramdaman na nila how to play in that gym,” Isaac told Spin.ph on Friday.
The Elite are set to play fellow expansion team Kia Motors in the first game of a scheduled doubleheader ushering the 40th season of the PBA on Sunday at the newly-built playing venue in Bocaue, Bulacan which is capable of housing a crowd of 55,000.
Isaac said it helps having played under Robert Jaworski at Ginebra in the mid-80s until the late 90s when sellout crowds were the norm either at the ULTRA in Pasig or at the Astrodome in Pasay.
“Laging sinasabi sa amin noon na magiging parte na ng buhay mo iyan (playing before a big crowd) as a player kaya kailangang masanay na sila (Blackwater players) sa ganun karaming tao,” added Isaac, who won three championships with Ginebra during his stint with the team from 1986 to 1992.
Isaac was the first to remind the Elite to focus on the game and not mind the humongous crowd especially with Blackwater up against a Kia side who led by popular playing coach Manny Pacquiao.
Although Blackwater already had an idea on how to play Kia following its 88-77 win in their duel during the Liga ng Bayan two weeks ago in Binan, Laguna, Isaac expects the Sorentos to come out with a far better performance with Pacquiao providing inspiration.
“I’m sure may adjustments na silang (Sorentos) gagawin against us so we just have to be ready,” he added.