Sep 20, 2022

Rosario, Banal will have Vanguardia's attention as Blackwater battles Bay Area Dragons

BLACKWATER aims to build on its last PBA Philippine Cup run when it opens up the Commissioner's Cup wars against the Bay Area Dragons Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

It's just that certain unknowns gnaw at Bossing coach Ariel Vanguardia, foremost of which is what lineup the guest team made up mostly of players from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan would be fielding.

"We played them three tune-up games so kumbaga they know us, we know them," said Vanguardia on the eve of the match kicking off the mid-season conference.

"Factor lang, we don't know kung sino dapat mga locals nila," added Vanguardia. "Madami silang Canadian and American passport holders, mga dual citizens, so hindi namin alam kung sino ia-allow under PBA rules, kung sino eligible sa kanila. Pero definitely dapat isa lang American nila."

One thing Vanguardia is certain of is that Bay Area is sure to foil Blackwater's bid to pick up from where it left off in the Philippine Cup, when it got as far as the quarterfinals just months after posting a league-worst 29-game losing streak.

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"Very strong ang team na iyon," noted Vanguardia. "They have the size, speed, tapos mga shooting, grabe shooting. Ibang klaseng game, hindi sila PBA-style."

Indeed, the Dragons are to be led by Andrew Nicholson, the 19th overall pick by the Orlando Magic in the 2012 NBA draft and who also saw action for Washington and Brooklyn. The long-limbed 32-year-old Canadian, who starred for St. Bonaventure in the US NCAA, played a total 285 NBA games with an average of 6.0 ppg before plying his trade in China and, most recently, Korea.

And then there is Bay Area's head coach, Brian Goorjian, the Australian-American considered as the most successful tactician in Australia's NBL and also currently calling the shots for the Boomers, the national team from Down Under.

Also to be determined by Blackwater is how Troy Rosario and Gab Banal, freshly acquired from TNT via NLEX in exchange for Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and two future second round draft picks, would be able to gel with their new teammates and contribute.

"Troy and Gab give us plenty of playoff experience, so iyun lang titingnan namin. We'd like to stay positive. We are moving forward from now on. Part naman ng challenge as a coach, to make it work," said Vanguardia.

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"We're getting quality and experienced players in return, so chemistry lang ang problema ngayon. But we can build that through time," Vanguardia also said. "As we go deep in the tournament, I'm sure we'll be able to figure out the chemistry with those two. Kasi mga holdovers nandoon na chemistry. We'd like to see what both of them can give us."

Vanguardia is also eager to see how his import, former Loyola Chicago standout Cameron Krutwig, who last played in Belgium, fares. "Iba ipapakita nitong laro. Very European way. He can dominate in other departments, not just in scoring," stated the coach, adding the 23-year-old fits his team to a T.

"We've finally figured out that we can win so we're gonna build up from there. Then we got the import who fits what we were doing since last conference so iyun lang maganda. Kumbaga, magkakaroon ng continuity ng programa." (NC)