Blackwater hopes import Chris Charles turns their fortunes in Comms Cup
MANILA, Philippines – They are winless, but not hopeless.
Expansion team Blackwater Elite is eager to bounce back from a forgettable 2015 PBA Philippine Cup showing where they failed to break the win column and dropped all 11 games.
To help boost their campaign, the Elite are enlisting as reinforcement the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) two-time Best Import Chris Charles, who was hand-picked by team owner Dioceldo Sy.
“I personally chose the import. I took the chance of getting Chris Charles. He's 7-foot-1, and I'm happy we got him,” he said.
Charles, 33, played in the Middle East for 4 years before making his way to Thailand and joining the Thailand Slammers/Hi-Tech Bangkok City of the ABL in 2013.
During that year, he played under coach Joe Bryant, father of Kobe Bryant, and won his first Best Import plum as well as Defensive Player of the Year honors. He then led Bangkok City to a title this year, contributing 18 points and 19 rebounds for Game 2 of the finals as his team swept the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
His 2014 season average of 20.4 points and 14 rebounds earned him his second Best Import award.
Aside from Charles, Blackwater also signed ABL Finals MVP Jerick Cañada.
Cañada, 26, was a former Adamson University standout in the UAAP before joining the Indonesia Warriors in the ABL from 2011 to 2013. He then found his way to Bangkok City, like Charles, and helped them to the 2014 title.
The playmaker from Cebu was awarded Finals MVP owing to his average of 21 points and 4 steals during the finals. He also tallied season averages of 11.17 points and 5.13 assists.
Both Charles and Cañada are expected to bolster the reeling Blackwater, which is working out issues and are likely to have personnel changes throughout the season, according to head coach Leo Isaac.
“It gives me relief that we're getting players who no longer need to go in the draft,” Sy said. “I think these two can provide a spark in the team, and we're hoping to get younger legs.”
Sy shared Blackwater is going in a direction where they plan to inject more youth into the line-up and build around that.
“In the PBA, with its high level of play, when you go 30-plus, with the exception of (Asi) Taulava, you have to really do something,” he explained.
“We have to get younger. We have no choice. In the third and fourth quarters of the games, it’s the younger players doing the run. We just have to have enough young people to play and give quality minutes to the older ones. We cannot totally rely on them as go-to guys. It's a different approach we’re doing now, and we hope our adjustment can help us.”
Sy also shed light on further plans for personnel changes this season.
“I’m giving them two conferences to shape up, and then in July, we'll decide who to drop and who to retain in the team,” he said. “Right now, we are recruiting additional young players to further firm up the line-up.”
Like Isaac, Sy also admitted being dismayed with the team’s Philippine Cup campaign. They blew their closest shot for a victory when they allowed fellow newcomer KIA to come from behind on October 19.
But where Isaac saw no positives from the first conference, Sy found enlightenment.
“It's very disappointing, but very challenging. I never thought the PBA has this level of play. It's totally different from the PBL and the D-League,” he said. “After one conference, more or less, I know what to do. I personally talked to the coaches and helped them decide on the conditioning.”
If anything, missing the playoffs gives Blackwater a head start in preparing for the Commissioner’s Cup. Their import Charles will arrive on Friday, December 12 and the team will start working right away the following day.
“Our early exit gives us ample time to prepare. It’s not enough, it’s a little over a month,” said Sy. “But the good thing is we’re starting early, so I think we’re way ahead of the other teams so I think all of this can help us in the preparation for this coming conference.” – Rappler.com