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Valuable lessons for Elite

Blackwater, preparing for the season-opening PBA Philippine Cup, has gained valuable experience despite finishing runner-up in an invitational tournament in Malaysia.

“We’re very happy with the performance of the team, particularly the rookies,” said Blackwater team manager Jonson Martines. “Of course, a championship would have been a great accomplishment.”

“But even with the loss, we’re still proud of what they players showed in the tournament. We learned many lessons playing here,” added Martines.

Blackwater played with an all-Filipino roster against local teams reinforced by two imports in the Seri Mutiara Champions Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

After posting a 4-1 card in the elimination round, Blackwater won its semifinal match but lost in the final against the Nigeri Sembilan Matrix, 73-76, last Sunday at the MABA Stadium.

Blackwater, coached by Leo Isaac, made full use of rookies Almond Vosotros from La Salle, Keith Agovida from Arellano, Jason Melano from St. Francis of Assisi and Fil-Am Jawhar Purdy from Cal State Stanislaus.

Martines said Blackwater will sign Art dela Cruz, their first round pick in last month’s Rookie Draft.

The Elite can only sign the 6-foot-4 forward after his stint with San Beda College in the NCAA.

The team owned by Dioceldo Sy already signed Vosotros for a two-year deal contract, while Agovida is expected to ink a one-year deal. Martines said they will decide this week whether or not to sign Purdy and Melano.

Aside from the rookies, Blackwater also obtained Carlo Lastimosa in a trade with Barako Bull for Brian Hereula, as well as James Sena and Mike Cortez from a deal with Meralco.

They will join a youthful core of Blackwater holdovers – Bam-Bam Gamalinda, Reil Cervantes, Jason Ballesteros, Gilbert Bulawan, JP Erram, Frank Golla, Robby Celiz and Raffy Reyes. (Waylon Galvez)