MIKE DiGregorio believes Blackwater will be able to sustain the gains from the past season even with the trades the Elite made at yearend.
DiGregorio said the Elite are aiming high following a Governors’ Cup campaign that saw them finish in fifth place in the eliminations after a 4-0 start, the best in franchise history.
Blackwater parted with Poy Erram and Paul Zamar, two of its key players in the Governors’ Cup, but DiGregorio is excited to work with the new guys.
“Obviously, we wanted to keep the group together,” said DiGregorio on Sunday. “It is a big blow losing Poy. But I don’t like the notion that everybody is automatically writing us off, that we don’t have Poy, and we didn’t have the same team last conference.
“For me personally, I’m a winner. I’ve a winner’s mindset. So to automatically fix that we can’t win or we are not going to win is a loser’s mindset. And that’s not what I have and I don’t think that’s what the rest of the guys have,” added DiGregorio.
“I worked extremely and the team is working extremely hard every single day, extra hours before and after practice. I wished we could have kept the group that we have but it’s not the way it works. I still expect to go out there and win games,” said DiGregorio.
Blackwater acquired Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter from NLEX while also signing its draft pick Diego Dario.
As one of the core guys on the team, DiGregorio said he is taking it upon himself to help the new guys learn the system of coach Bong Ramos.
“The guys are coming along. It’s going to be more on my shoulders as well as Allein (Maliksi) and the other core guys to help them come along … We have to help them along. Every time that I see something in practice that I can help them with or they don’t fully understand yet, I’ll obviously talk to them and tell them what I see and where I think they can be better. Things that I can help them along in order to understand coach Bong’s system.
“And then after practice, pulling these guys along on offdays, pulling these guys along like, let gets some shots up, work on things on our game. Our job as leaders is to push them and make them feel uncomfortable, make them push to their limits. If we are going to rely on them, we need them to be ready. As one of the leaders, that’s part of being a leader, to help them reach their potential,” said the nephew of former NBA Rookie of the Year Ernie DiGregorio.
DiGregorio also urges Blackwater’s bigs to deliver.
“They have no choice but to step up. I’ve been trying to stay on guys like Chris Javier. I’ve been trying to help Abu because we are going to rely on him. Those guys need to step up. I know Mac (Belo) and Raymar (Jose) will take their game to the next level this conference and contribute. We don’t need anybody to fill Poy’s role per se. We need to have a collective effort. We don’t need anyone to try and play hero ball. It’s about the team. If we can all help each other and keep working hard, it’s going to be good. We need those big guys to step up,” DiGregorio said.
“I’m excited. I never listened to other’s expectations. Whatever outsiders think of, they are going to place us at a lower seed or not make the playoffs, that not of our concern. We have to have a winner’s mindset and a worker’s mindset, take each day at a time, work extremely hard, and being prepared. Confidence comes from preparation. If you are prepared and the team is prepared, and we are working hard every single day.
“I’m excited. I really believe that we can continue the upside that we showed last conference,” said DiGregorio.