Feb 18, 2019

Ramos instilling endgame poise in his struggling Elite

ITS current lowly standing in the PBA Philippine Cup would not prevent Blackwater from persisting in its improvement process.

Elite coach Bong Ramos has not stopped from instilling into his youth-laden squad the lessons learned from their first seven games together, more so now that they are struggling.

"Unti-unti correct lang ng correct nu'ng mga mali, mga lapses," said Ramos. "Sabi ko na sa mga players, 'Kahit talo okay lang, basta nag-i-improve tayo.'"

That mantra has been repeatedly stressed by Ramos, more so when his team dropped a 101-103 decision to Alaska last Wednesday.

Now with four straight losses and a 1-6 card overall, Blackwater is practically out of the running for one of the quarterfinals slots reserved for the top eight teams following the 11-game eliminations.

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Still, that recent performance was a stark departure from Blackwater's three previous ones, where it lost by an average of 17 points.

The Elite even had the chance to win it as they toted a three-point lead going to the game's last 2:15. But they broke down with a couple of lapses in the stretch while Carl Bryan Cruz, Chris Banchero and Sonny Thoss carried the Aces home.

"Me naka-assign kami kay Cruz, di nag-rotate. Tapos, isang possession, Iyung di dapat tumira, siyang tumira, minadali, di pumasok," rued Ramos.

"Against Alaska, hindi p'wede iyong ganoon."

There was no tongue-lashing from Ramos following that game, however.

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He simply pointed out where his players broke down.

"How they execute sa endgame, iyon ang biggest question from that game," related Ramos. "Di ako nag-name ng name, pero alam ng players kung sino iyon. Nag-usap kami, alam nila. 'Coach, my bad.'

"Sabi ko nga sa kanila, 'Nag-aaral tayo pare-pareho. Kailangan matutunan natin ang mali. Kailangan matutunan natin ang mali para ma-remind natin sarili for the next time. Pag ganoon, mag-i-improve player, pati ang team.

"Di ka naman mag-i-improve kung papabayaan mo lang ang mali."

Ramos is now left hoping his team, which includes three rookies and two new acquisitions, have learned from their mistakes and take those lessons in their next games, starting against Columbian on March 1.

One big positive going for the Elite is the return of center Rabeh Al-Hussaini, who was suspended in the off-season for going AWOL last December.

"Nakakasabay na sa practices, but we'll see," said Ramos. "He will be on minutes restriction pero tingnan natin. Kung maganda naman ilalaro baka mas matagal siya sa loob." (NC)