PBA: Terrafirma leaves Blackwater still stuck in a 16-month skid
MANILA, Philippines–It has been, by Paul Desiderio’s account, two seasons already.
“It’s been a long time,” the spitfire guard, one of two remaining Blackwater players who was with the team when it last tasted a victory, told the Inquirer while shaking his head.
The Bossing came oh-so-close Saturday night before Terrafirma found its groove in the last five minutes of the match and hammered out a 109-103 victory in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elite led by as many as 12 points and had the Dyip in an eight-point hole going into the stretch, only to get razed by an 18-0 Terrafirma run that brought tears, literally, to Blackwater coach Ariel Vanguardia’s eyes.
“We could’ve prevented the 18-0 run. We had the shots of Baser (Amer), of JVee (Casio) of (Rashawn) McCarthy,” Vanguardia told reporters after emerging from an hour’s worth of introspection inside the Blackwater dugout after the game.
“It just so happened that the wide-open ones, we weren’t able to convert. That was the story towards the ending,” he added.
Terrafirma’s Antonio Hester fired up that finishing kick, which high-profile rookie Joshua Munzon, returning from an injury hiatus, capped with a layup.
“They’re not the only team desperate for wins. We’re in the same position as them,” the wide-bodied Hester said after the game.“I wouldn’t put us above anybody right now, you know? We’re working hard just like any other team in the league right now,” Hester added on the heels of a 41-point and 13-rebound performance.
Well, maybe the Dyip are not exactly in the same position as the Bossing. Not only did Terrafirma notch its second win in six games this conference, the franchise is not languishing in a league worst losing streak the way Blackwater is—that number is now 25, including six straight this conference, after Saturday’s result.
The Bossing’s struggles have now spanned nearly 16 months, a spiral stretched by the many breaks forced on the league by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bossing’s last victory came in October 2020, when it played NLEX.
Desiderio, who knows about crawling out of losing streaks as part of the University of the Philippines squad that overturned a stretch of futile seasons into one of the school’s most successful runs, admitted he was excited as the game entered the payoff period.
“I really thought we were finally getting that first win. I was really excited. But I guess that’s basketball for you,” he said.
Munzon, who played his first game since his hand injury, finished with 13 points, four rebounds and two steals for Terrafirma.
Meanwhile, new Bossing import Shawn Glover, who replaced Jaylen Bond, had 35 points and 17 rebounds in the losing effort.
“It’s really hard to get a win. We have to dig deeper to get the elusive win,” said Vanguardia, who has, well, NLEX coming up next.
“[We have to] stay professional. This is a new team, so we have to continue working and trusting one another,” said Desiderio.
“We have nothing left to do but to keep working hard,” he added.