Elite prime up for Govs’ Cup in Macau
Blackwater is looking to build on its remarkable gains in the last conference and use them in a stint in the Asia League Terrific 12, a pocket tournament in Macau, in a bid to realize its PBA Finals aspirations for the season-ending Governors’ Cup.
“We’re looking at our last campaign as a springboard going into the next,” Aris Dimaunahan, the Elite’s rookie coach, told the Inquirer Monday afternoon after the team’s first practice following a break.
Blackwater saw semifinal action for the first time and finished a franchise-best No. 3 after the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations with a 7-4 record.
“I feel that our performance in the previous conference will serve as a huge morale boost for the team,” said Dimaunahan. “We learned that through playing for each other, we could take care of business, and ultimately win games.”
The Elite are also looking to fine-tune their game when they play in the six-day tourney that begins on Sept. 17 at the Tap Seac Stadium.
There, the young Blackwater cast will be backstopped by Aaron Fuller and old hand Alex Stepheson against a field featuring marquee teams from across the region, including Commissioner’s Cup finalists San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa.
Fuller, who last saw PBA action with NLEX, and Stepheson, who was Blackwater’s first import in the Commissioner’s Cup, were teammates at University of Southern California.
Stepheson, though, didn’t finish the tournament after flying back to the United States in a huff because of an illness.
Fuller, meanwhile, will be the Elite’s import for the Governors’ Cup where a 6-foot-5 ceiling for imports is imposed.
Dimaunahan said that his focus in Macau is to build cohesion and apply tweaks to prime the Elite for the third conference.
“We’re really looking to improve our game,” said Dimaunahan.
“Like how we close out quarters and halves,” he added. “We were doing well in that department in the eliminations, but not in the playoffs.”