Pressure on for Barako Bull import Solomon Alabi as Energy take on Blackwater Elite in Commissioner's Cup
Solomon Alabi has been told by Barako Bull to shape up or ship out after subpar performances in tuneup matches. Richard Dy

BARAKO Bull hopes import Solomon Alabi would finally hit the energy level needed as they begin their Commissioner’s Cup campaign against a Blackwater Elite side raring to end its winless run in the PBA on Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Alabi, the 50th overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2010 NBA Draft, is noted for his defensive prowess since his college days at Florida State University.

But coach Koy Banal admitted that Alabi has yet to flash that old, deadly form since arriving in Manila almost two weeks ago.

“Right now, binibigyan ko muna siya ng parang benefit of the doubt, kasi he’s sore. Iyung timing niya off pa kasi kung makikita mo ang tapes niya, di siya ganun,” said Banal.

Alabi scored 24 points during Barako Bull’s 95-99 loss to GlobalPort in their tune-up game last week, but was totally outclassed by KIA Motors’ 7-foot-4 Puerto Rican import Peter John Ramos in a fight-marred game, days later.

“I’m still giving it to him, pero diniretso ko siya, if you want to stay and finish this conference, you have to shape up because we can’t wait for you forever,” he added.

Blackwater, meantime, is banking on a rejigged roster and the addition of two-time Asean Basketball League MVP Chris Charles after a winless Philippine Cup stint.

Game time is 4:15 p.m.

The Elite signed free agents Gio Ciriacruz, Val Acuna and Raphael Reyes to infuse fresh talent to the Dioceldo Sy-owned squad, which went 0-11 in the All-Filipino conference.

Seven-foot-one Charles recently led the Hi-Tech Bangkok City to the 2014 ABL championships, averaging 20.5 points and 14.1 rebounds.

“I just want to bring energy, blocks shots and play as hard as I can. Just try to help them win. I heard they were winless last conference, but that’s a challenge for everybody, especially for me,” Charles said. 

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The former Villanova stalwart acknowledged that the level of play in the PBA is far different than in the ABL, but Charles is confident he’s up to the challenge.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava