MACAU—Asia’s best made it clear Tuesday that the Philippines’ pro teams will find the sailing rough in this autonomous gambling region.
Blackwater failed to handle the speed of Seoul as it lost in the opener, 93-77, of the East Asia Super League: The Terrific 12 at Tap Seac Sports Pavilion here.
The Knights outpaced the Elite every time down, using their 23-8 fastbreak edge to nail their first win and hand one of three squads representing the PBA a rude welcome.
“I thought we started the game really flat today and we cannot let that happen [on Wednesday],” said Blackwater coach Aris Dimaunahan.
Seoul sped to a 43-26 lead with 3:56 to play in the first half but Blackwater somehow recovered and uncorked a 20-3 run that tied the game at 46 off Alex Stepheson’s one-hand jam.
Seoul, however, quickly countered with a 13-4 run with Aaron Haynes’ layup giving the SK Knights a 59-50 lead with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter.
The Knights’ running game seemed to have left Stepheson and the Elite gasping as they went on to pull away for the victory.
“I thought we closed out the first half the way we wanted,” said Dimaunahan. “The consistency, however, is not there and maybe that’s the reason we lost the game.”
Blackwater thus fell to a 0-1 record in Group A and it will have to beat B. League’s Chiba in its second game on Wednesday to have a chance of cracking the semifinals of the tournament, which brings together some of the topnotch clubs from Asian pro leagues.
Stepheson led the Elite with 19 points and 19 rebounds while Marqus Blakely, Blackwater’s import for the PBA Governors’ Cup, had 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists.
Jameel Warney had 24 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and three steals to lead the Knights. Kim Min Soo added 18 points and six rebounds, while the Knights’ other import Aaron Haynes finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Hobbling the Elite was the absence of stars Ray Parks Jr. and Mike DiGregorio, who skipped the game for health reasons. Both are listed day-to-day for the tournament. Blackwater was also without veteran playmaker Mike Cortez and big man Rabeh Al-Hussaini.
“[Their absence] really hurt us big time, because I think we lost probably almost 38 points,” said Dimaunahan.
San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa are the other two PBA teams in the fold, with the Beermen still playing the Shenzhen Aviators at press time.
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