Bossed around: Blackwater suffers two routs early in PH Cup
Nash Racela can go down to the nuts and bolts of what has caused Blackwater’s cold start in the PBA Philippine Cup, where the Bossing seemed to look like a lost lot.
“A lot of things [about us] were exposed, that is certain,” he told the Inquirer on the heels of a 71-62 loss to Rain or Shine on Sunday night, that saw the Bossing trail by as many as 20 points, before taking a second straight lopsided loss flush on the chin.
But Racela will also be the first to say that none of those weigh heavier than the reality that his charges are in.
“The situation now is we have different players,” he added. Too many different players, in fact, as Blackwater has lost its first two games by a combined 35 points, counting a 103-77 setback to Alaska in the first game of the season, which now stands as the worst opening game loss since Mobiline whipped Tanduay by 34 at the start of the 1999 all-Filipino conference.
The Bossing have seven new faces, replacing half the team it had in last year’s bubble in Clark Freeport. A good addition is Simon Enciso, who has seen action for several teams before and has big game experience.
“During our post-game huddle, I told them: ‘Let’s talk about realities. When you’re at Blackwater, every season is like a reset.’ I even told them that ‘I’m not even sure I know what I’m building,’” said Racela, who once led the star-laden TNT franchise to deep playoff runs, including a Finals appearance in just his second conference.
He’s in no way saying that the crop he has now is inferior. Racela just knows that there’s a process that comes breaking in newcomers.
“As I’ve said, we have new players. When you have time to prepare, the advantage will be on those teams who have been together for a long time.
“Over here, everything has been [about] teaching and absorbing. And it hasn’t been easy. It’s almost like we’re doing the adjustments game after game,” he added.
But don’t mistake his statements as defeatist, Racela was simply letting the team know where he’s coming from.
This is why rather than fixating on opposing teams, Racela has shifted Blackwater’s focus inwards.
“In that huddle was also a reminder for everyone,” he said. “That we’d rather look at the opportunities that are right in front of us.”
It’s the same philosophy he latches on to, especially whenever he is reminded of Blackwater’s former players who would have kept the franchise solid.
“It’s really hard to focus on the past. If we go back to [Mac]Belo, we also go back to [Don] Trollano, [Poy] Erram, and [Abu] Tratter,” he said.
“Who else? We list everyone else and we’d probably have a very, very competitive roster—that if you require us to be in the Final Four, that task would’ve sounded doable. But now, it’s hard.”
Belo was the latest ace Blackwater shipped out. He now plays for Meralco, the corporate sibling of TNT that now enjoys Erram’s services. NLEX now has Trollano, with Tratter becoming a pillar at Alaska.
But hope is not lost on the soft-spoken mentor.
Racela said he’s drawing consolation from the fact that his new players—bannered by Baser Amer and Kelly Nabong—are now showing signs of being at home and at ease.
“While we did not make the shots we took, we’re doing all the right decisions [on the floor],” he said.
“Sure, we don’t know what we’re building, you never know, right? We just might hit that breakthrough,” he added.
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