Coach Leo Isaac pleased with Blackwater progress as Elite whip Kia Sorento in friendly
Coach Leo Isaac likes what he sees in training and hopes they can even do better during the tournament proper. Jerome Ascano

THE brand new year offered a sign of hope for Blackwater, which whipped fellow expansion team KIA Motors, 95-81 on Sunday in a training match at the SGS gym on Araneta Ave. in Quezon City.

Blackwater coach Leo Isaac said he liked what he saw from the Elite, who played with aggressiveness on both ends of the floor despite playing without an import.

“We’re playing much better kasi parang mas sariwa ngayon ang thinking ng mga players sa bagong taon,” Isaac told Spin.ph on Monday, just before the team’s practice.

Isaac opted to rest Chris Charles, Blackwater’s 7-foot-1 reinforcement, while KIA’s 7-3 Puerto Rican Peter John Ramos played for just a few minutes in the first period, before leaving the Sorento’s all-Filipino crew led by playing coach Manny Pacquiao to finish the game.

“Of course, mentally and physically, we still need to keep improving. Kita mo naman ang Alaska sa Finals, na nakahabol pa (in Game Three against San Miguel). Eh kami, we feel we’re slowly getting there,” he added.

Although the 33-year-old Charles did not see action, Isaac said the two-time Asean Basketball League MVP can give them the size and inside presence they sorely lacked during their woeful 0-11 win-loss campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup.

“Very competitive siya (Charles) and he knows how he can help the locals,” said Isaac.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao has been taking a more active coaching role for the past week since the Sorento resumed practice after the new year break.

Pacquiao, who played a total of just two games for KIA in the all-Filipino conference, has been working closely with his assistant coaches, along with team consultant Joe Lipa, who officially came on board only last week.

KIA team manager Eric Pineda also explained that Ramos is still adjusting to his new team, after arriving just late last week, though the former Puerto Rico national team member has been helping out the coaching staff in devising some plays.

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“Ang maganda kasi sa kanya (Ramos), tumutulong siya sa coaching staff, like kung ano ang gagawing plays para ma-maximize naming siya sa laro,” Pineda said.

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