(Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City)
4:15 p.m. – GlobalPort vs Meralco
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs Blackwater
One of the surprises this early in the PBA Philippine Cup is Blackwater’s performance as the Elite are in a position to get to the quarterfinal playoffs for the second straight season.
Without a doubt, rookie Mac Belo’s arrival is the main reason why the team is enjoying its best start in team history.
“Malaking bagay yung may nakuha silang player na kagaya ni Mac Belo,” said veteran coach Leo Austria of defending champion San Miguel Beer. “He can play the three and four positions (small and power forwards), so very versatile siya na player.”
Austria sees more.
“Ang maganda pa sa kanya, he’s a team player, a very hard working player na sa tingin ko kahit na sinong coach e gugustuhin na magkaroon ng player na gaya niya na talagang mahusay.”
Blackwater made Belo its pick in the Rookie Draft from the Gilas Gadets, and the former Far Eastern University stalwart has been a solid contributor for the team since.
At the moment, the Elite are tied for fourth and fifth spots with Phoenix Fuel with identical 4-3 cards, and through seven games, Belo has averaged team highs of 19 points and 8.25 rebounds.
The 6-foot-3 Belo, who is being compared to TNT KaTropa’s veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo, is also averaging nearly two assists and a steal per game this conference.
However, Rain or Shine mentor Caloy Garcia said that Belo isn’t just the only reason why Blackwater is performing well in this Philippine Cup, a conference where the team made its first ever quarterfinal stint last conference but lost to RoS in the playoffs.
“They’re playing team basketball. Of course, Belo is a special player… he’s very talented. But if you’ll look at Blackwater, they’re very competitive at every position and they’re working as a team,” said Garcia.
“You also have to give credit to coach Leo Isaac kasi yung system niya nagagawa nilang patakbuhin ang mga players.
They just work hard, follow the system of their coach, kaya maganda tinatakbo nila as a team,” he added.
Blackwater has four games to play in the elimination round and when action resumes in the PBA on Wednesday, the Elite will take on 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo and the rest of the Beermen.