August 29, 2017

Streaking Blackwater tries to break winless spell against TnT KaTropa

SURPRISING Blackwater has made everybody sit up and take notice of late by stringing together a first-ever three-game winning streak for the franchise.

The Elite don't want just that laurel.

Blackwater aims to add on to the franchise milestone and snap out of TNT KaTropa's three-year spell over it when they collide Wednesday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The KaTropa, fresh off a hard-earned 110-103 decision over Phoenix last Friday, come to the match aiming to win back-to-back games for the first time in the season-ending conference and in the process join idle Rain or Shine at fifth-running spot.

TNT coach Nash Racela knows it won't be easy going against a Blackwater crew whose confidence has sky-rocketed after victories over Phoenix, NLEX and Alaska, the last a 111-106 count fashioned after two overtime periods.

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"Blackwater is at their best right now," noted Racela. "The locals have been playing well with (Henry) Walker's leadership. We need to study and prepare hard to have a chance."

Elite coach Leo Isaac can't stress enough the importance of the game for his side.

"We will go for a win," stated Isaac, whose team has not won over TNT in their eight previous meetings.

"So many things are at stake," added Isaac. "A first-ever four-game win streak for our franchise and a first-ever win over TNT since we joined the PBA.

"Also, a first for Henry Walker to win over TNT since he started playing here in the country."

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For Blackwater to have at least an even chance, Walker, who was introduced on local shores by Alaska in 2014 and played for NLEX last year, must again take the lead.

The former NBA campaigner has been huge in powering the Elite from their 0-3 start, currently averaging 32 points, 20.67 rebounds and 4.3 assists an outing.

More than the numbers, however, it is the leadership and inspiration Walker provides that has further stoked the fire in his local teammates headed by the likes of Mike Digregorio and JP Erram.

After being denied by organizers the chance to don the country's colors in the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, Mac Belo is also set to suit up anew for Blackwater in what would be only his third game in the tourney.

In the two previous games he has played after suffering a knee injury early in the mid-season Commissioner's Cup, Belo has averaged 6.5 points and 3.0 rebounds, but should be contributing much more this time around.

Isaac sure needs every weapon he could muster since TNT has its own stocked arsenal in Gilas stalwarts Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, should the latter be deemed rested and ready to play after helping the Philippines win the SEA Games basketball gold.

Racela also at his disposal Glen Rice, Jr., who exploded for 38 points against Phoenix, as well as Ranidel de Ocampo and Kelly Williams.