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    Unheralded Mark Acuno long been on the radar of Blackwater coach Racela

    Mar 14, 2021

    BLACKWATER coach Nash Racela finally got the player he’s been keeping an eye on.

    The Bossing made a lot of heads turn during the PBA Draft on Sunday when they tabbed unheralded big man Mark Acuno at No. 14 in the second round of the proceedings held at the TV5 media center.

    The pick was the team’s first in the talent-loaded draft and so it came as a big surprise when Racela called out the name of the 6-foot-7 Acuno.

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      The need for a big man following the trade of sophomore center Maurice Shaw prompted the Bossing to scour for size in an effort to upgrade Blackwater’s frontcourt.

      But at the same time, he admitted going after Acuno during his amateur days with Southwestern University.

      “Naalala ko kasi there was a time we were trying to recruit him for FEU,” recalled Racela, who once served as head coach of the Tamaraws in the UAAP.

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      “And then sa MPBL, we also tried to recruit him for Iloilo,” added the Blackwater mentor, whose former FEU deputy Eric Gonzalez, served as coach of the United Royals in the regional league.

      Acuno was just one of six unheralded picks for Racela, who also selected Joshua Torralba, Andre Paras, Jun Manzo, Kim Bayquin, and Jeson Delfinado in the succeeding rounds.

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      While Acuno may not bring instant impact to the Bossing, Racela expects him to give quality minutes to a team that also recently lost its top two and three scorers in Don Trollano and Roi Sumang as part of the Shaw trade to NLEX in exchange for the No. 4 overall pick.

      “We see him as a serviceable big man. Alam naman natin sa PBA very scarce ang big man. If we decide to use him, mabibigyan niya kami ng magandang minuto,” said Racela of Acuno, who he saw play for University of the East and Manila Stars in the MPBL.

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        “The good thing about him is that he’s still young, proper guidance and training, in two to three years magiging maayos na 'yan sa PBA. And I’m a coach who preaches patience and player development. As long as we will be patient, he will be OK.”

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