Isaac urges Blackwater players to prove their worth
MANILA, Philippines – Still winless in 4 outings, Blackwater Elite head coach Leo Isaac was forced to take drastic measures to wake up his former D-League champion team.
Isaac called out his players following their 100-91 loss to Barangay Ginebra Tuesday, November 4, urging them to step up and show the rest of the PBA why they still deserve to be there.
“What I said to the players was, we believe that there’s something more in these players that’s why we picked them up. We believe that meron pang pakinabang itong mga players na ‘to,” he said, refusing to sugarcoat the truth he sees. (Because we believe that these players can still compete.)
“But the way they played, it’s like they’re giving us the impression that they’re done.”
As an expansion team, most of the players that went to Blackwater were rejects from the other 10 teams. They are a mix of journeymen and rookies dubbed not good enough or not fit for teams’ systems.
But the entry of Blackwater and KIA into the PBA made it possible for players to get a second chance at a pro basketball career. And for Isaac, who watched his team play catch-up with Ginebra all night Tuesday, he hopes his players make the most of their second opportunity.
“That’s why you are here because we believe that you can still give some more. But don’t give us the impression that you are done,” he said firmly.
“Maybe that would serve as a challenge. Maybe we can get out of that fear and doubt and have a good game.”
Isaac sees a vital inconsistency in his Blackwater cagers where they work double in practice but relax during the game.
Instead of the normal pattern of hard work in practice means better performance on the court, Blackwater is doing the opposite where none of what they do in training translates to execution on the court.
“It’s a bit frustrating because we see how the players work during practice but 'pag dating ng game day, wala,” he explained. “Medyo masakit nga pero I had to say (to them), ‘some of the players here 'pag dating sa ensayo, doble (trabaho) pero pag dating ng laban bawas na.’”
(It’s a bit frustrating because we see how the players work hard during practice but come game day, it’s gone. It hurts but I had to say it to them, ‘some of the players here when you train, you double the effort but during the battle it’s lessened.)
He added: “It’s a bit frustrating because we thought we could compete well against Ginebra because we had a good practice day. We planned very well with our offensive and defensive system but during game day, we didn’t see it. We totally missed out our game preparation.”
That and a serious case of intimidation is what Blackwater must overcome.
“Sa Ginebra andyan sila Caguioa, Slaughter, tapos parang nakayuko na yung mga players ko eh.” (With Ginebra there was Caguioa, Slaughter, and my players just had their heads down.)
A win continues to elude the Elite, even against fellow newcomer KIA, which was a team they could supposedly handle. And with Globalport as their next assignment on Sunday, November 9, the road only gets tougher from here on out.
Isaac believes that for Blackwater to start winning, a change of outlook is needed. He issued a challenge to his players.
“That’s an individual problem for our players. I’m challenging them to get out of their fear, try to meet anybody eye to eye,” he explained.
“Until we convince ourselves to win, that’s the time we can really prove ourselves. Until the time you get out of your shells and prove that you can compete with these guys, I said to them, mawala yung fear niyo, mawala yung duda niyo (you get rid of that fear and that doubt) – that’s the time that maybe we can celebrate a victory.”
But not all of them is wasting the chance. Point guard Paul Artadi, 33, a former University of the East standout and played for teams such as Purefoods, Ginebra and San Miguel, clearly has his head in the right place as he has carried Blackwater on his 5-foot-10 frame.
“He’s proving himself. Everybody doesn’t have a second look on him, he was put on the dispersal draft and we picked him up,” Isaac said of the 11th overall pick of the 2004 draft. “Now iniiwan niya lahat sa three-pointers (Now he leaves every behind in three-pointers), he was 5 out of 9, he had 21 points. We know what Artadi can do.”
Isaac hopes everyone else follows Artadi’s lead.
“I hope he would serve as an inspiration for the other players. Ang liit liit pero buo ang loob (He’s so small but he has guts.).” – Rappler.com
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