On a mission to reformat franchise, Blackwater stuns TNT
It seems Blackwater is serious about turning its fortunes—and its image—around.
The Bossing turned to veteran skipper JVee Casio in the stretch to stun defending Philippine Cup champion TNT, 85-78, in a cardiac showdown on Friday at Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
JVee Casio scored the Bossing’s last seven points, helping them wiggle out of a 78-all deadlock and then snuffing out the Tropang Giga’s chances at coming back to ultimately claim a victory that should augur well for the franchise.
“We just stuck with what was working. It’s not every day that you beat a champion team. If we play them 10 times, maybe we’d beat them just once,” coach Ariel Vanguardia said after the game.
The Bossing won just one game last season, one that ended an ignominious 29-game slump spread over two years, and then spent the off-season promising changes within the franchise in the hopes of burning its whipping boy label.
And the Bossing could not have picked a better way to start reformatting their image, pouncing on the Tropang Giga that was still without prized guard Mikey Williams.
But Casio immediately put the victory into perspective.
“It’s a good win against a very good team, but this is just one game. We still have many more to go,” said the veteran playmaker, who led all scorers with 22 points spiked with four assists and four rebounds.
Blackwater also drew commendable performances from ragtag crew of veterans and newcomers. Baser Amer finished with 11 points. James Sena, Yousef Taha and second-round pick Ato Ular also finished in double figures for the Bossing, who are still without No. 1 overall pick and projected franchise savior Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser.
Rosser is expected to suit up in Blackwater’s fourth game.
Roger Pogoy finished with 32 points, while only Poy Erram and Jayson Castro reached double figures with 10 each as the reigning conference champions dropped to 1-1. The Tropang Giga were deserted by their three-point shooting, making just 4-for-29 (13.8 percent) from deep.
“It’s huge. Really huge,” Vanguardia said of the victory, which he kept framing as an upset.
‘A bit lucky’
Blackwater led the star-studded TNT by as many as 13 points, 64-51, in the third period.
“Of course, we’re a bit lucky. We seem to have played a TNT team short on preparations. Maybe their mindset is still at the [Southeast Asian Games],” Vanguardia said. “It’s really better to have played them this early, than at a time when they’re desperate for wins.”
“I’m sure their play would’ve been totally different,” he added.
But things are about to get a bit tougher for Blackwater, with reigning Governors’ Cup champion Barangay Ginebra coming up on Sunday
“We have another champion team [to play] on Sunday. No rest. This is the PBA. It’s the best of the best,” he said.