Learning from 'past mistakes,' Blackwater vows never to trade Art Dela Cruz
Art Dela Cruz has emerged as an integral part of a Blackwater team that, after two seasons of frustration, is finally starting to gain attention. Jaime Campos

BLACKWATER team owner Dioceldo Sy believes Art Dela Cruz ending up with his ballclub is more than just a happy coincidence.

No wonder he has vowed never to let the player go.

Blackwater, you see, took a lot of flak from PBA fans when it traded away the No. 1 pick overall of the 2015 rookie draft in a complex three-team deal that also involved Talk 'N Text and NLEX.

The heat on Blackwater only mounted when TNT used that No. 1 pick to grab Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa. The Elite ended up with Larry Rodriguez, who the team later released, and the No. 9 pick in that draft which it used to get Dela Cruz.

A season later, Dela Cruz's impressive play and steady rise has come as vindication for Blackwater, which has seen the former San Beda star forward hold his own against some of the best big men in the pro league.

While Tautuaa has been largely inconsistent for TNT, Dela Cruz, the son of former San Miguel forward Arthur, has emerged as a pillar in a Blackwater team that is finally showing signs of promise this season.

“We learn from our mistakes coz (that time) we were desperate, but in the end I think I’m happier with Art dela Cruz than (us getting Moala) Tautuaa,” said the straight talking Sy.

Asked to elaborate on his comparison of Dela Cruz and Tautuaa, Sy only gave a cryptic response.

“I don’t have to delve on that, just look at the stats and intangibles,” he said.

Sy, in fact, is so happy with the progress in Dela Cruz's game that he has vowed to resist all trade offers for the sophomore big man.

“No deal, we will never trade Art away. He’s our future and as early as now we can see his potential. We’re just waiting for him to personally find his niche in the PBA. We know how he exploited his rivals in the NCAA back in the day,” said Sy.

Asked if there are already feelers for a trade involving Dela Cruz, Sy was quick to douse the fire.

“Wala pa but no way,” the Blackwater team owner said firmly. “Even if there is an offer, we won’t entertain them, kahit sino kahit anong grupo.”

San Beda team manager Jude Roque is the least surprised to see Dela Cruz do well in the PBA, describing the former Red Lion a quicker version of Bong Hawkins.


“Alam mo si Art, very versatile yan, madaming gamit sa kanya, kaya niya kahit anong role, magaadjust lang siya kung anong kulang. Kaya niya mag tres at kwatro. Guard lang di niya pwede laruin,” said Roque.

“Finesse yan, mautak lumaro at magaling tumaming, sa rebound at steals. Hindi mo siya maasahan sa long distance shooting, but everything else, makakatulong siya. He’s an energy guy pero pinakamaganda sa kanya, napakataas ng basketball IQ nyan,” he added.

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