January 11, 2018

Blackwater strongly motivated to beat Ginebra

RANGED against the powerhouse Barangay Ginebra team to start 2018, Blackwater is looking at the bright side of it, embracing the opportunity for a possible upset to boost its campaign.

"It would be something special for us if we be the first team to hand Ginebra its first defeat in the conference," said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac ahead of their 7 p.m. showdownFriday at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

"We are going to give our very best and try to win," said Isaac whose troops will be out to pull the rug from under the Gin Kings and be among the early frontrunners in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations.

They lost their first game in the season against the Meralco Bolts (98-103) but then bounced back with an inspiring 92-87 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

And it could well be the best time for them to try to steal a game against the Gin Kings who seem to have yet to get over with their hangover from their Governors Cup title run.

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They barely beat the GlobalPort Batang Pier, 104-97, the last time out with a performance that disappointed their coach.

"We kind of just stole the game," rued Cone.

"That's what teams coming from a championship do. They sleepwalk through the first three quarters, just turn on and try to win down the stretch. They feel they can just show up and win. They don't really play until they really have to," Cone pointed out.

"I'm disturbed. I think we can do away with that. This is something we have to get better at. We have to fire away right away," Cone also said.

The question is how will the Gin Kings respond.

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They better be on their toes as the Elite look to have improved tremendously based on their showing in their first two games in the season.

Blackwater started strong then endured a grind-out battle to score a breakthrough 91-87 win over Rain or Shine the last time out.

Mac Belo, Mike DiGregorio, Allein Maliksi and rookie Toto Jose dished out sterling games to lead the Elite to their first win over the Elasto Painters in four years.

Belo top scored with 25 points laced by five triples, DiGregorio made 23 markers including three treys, Maliksi put in a double-double effort with 10 points and the same number of rebounds while Jose chipped in 12 points and eight boards as Blackwater also nailed a first-ever victory in the Pasay City playing venue.

"I don't know the stats, but it's real good to win doing that together. Big thing really was we did it together," said DiGregorio then.

The Fil-Am guard felt they just showed what they're going to perform in the conference.

"We have lots of young guys who are hungry and eager to prove themselves. That keeps them in the gym. We'll get more wins in this conference," he said.(SB)