PBA: Blackwater draws needed inspiration late in upset win
MANILA, Philippines—Blackwater knew it had to find even just a smidge of inspiration to end its historic losing streak.
Head coach Ariel Vanguardia knew exactly who to turn to if his squad was to beat league-leader Magnolia.
Vanguardia, during one of the late-game huddles, turned to Paul Desiderio and said “Paul, atin ‘to!” (Paul, this is ours!) in a bid to hype up his shooting guard.
Fortunately for Vanguardia, his quip worked as the former University of the Philippines star poked the ball away from Mark Barroca that allowed JVee Casio to find the cutting Barkley Eboña for the go-ahead layup, 101-100, with 10.5 seconds to play.
“I told Paul, ‘Paul atin ‘to!’” said Vanguardia after their lone win in the 2021-22 PBA Governors’ Cup Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Desiderio famously shouted, “Atin ‘to!” before hitting the game-winner for Fighting Maroons’ 74-71 tournament opener against University of Santo Tomas in UAAP Season 80.
Vanguardia knew he had to invigorate his team after the Bossing squandered a 92-81 lead in the fourth, and even trail the Hotshots, 100-99, with 48 seconds to play.
Fortunately for Blackwater, Magnolia import Mike Harris didn’t play in the final three minutes while Jalalon was entirely absent during the matchup.
“We caught a break when Harris was taken out but we knew that Barroca was the one who’d lead Magnolia,” said Vanguardia, whose team came into the game on a 29-game slump that stretched back to the 2020 Philippine Cup.
“JVee was also aware of what Barroca could do because they were teammates in Gilas [back in 2010].”
Vanguardia also took responsibility for the team’s dreadful record and admitted that he made mistakes throughout the conference.
“I made mistakes along the way this conference, I admit that,” said Vanguardia as his team ended the tournament with a 1-10 record. “I think we’re better than just one victory and I’m very hopeful going to the future.”
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