Blackwater is not even halfway through its PBA Philippine Cup campaign, and coach Ariel Vanguardia knows that the real test is just about to begin.
“We cannot surprise anyone anymore. We know that any team will prepare for us now,” he told the Inquirer. “I think we just caught some teams off guard.”
The Bossing have won three of four games this season, lending credence to pretournament declarations that it would use the Philippine Cup to give its image a facelift by shedding its whipping boy tag—Blackwater is coming off a season where it set the record for consecutive losses at 29.
But up next for the team is Meralco on Thursday at the Big Dome, in a battle with a massive discrepancy in experience.
Blackwater has yet to make the playoffs since the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup. Meralco, meanwhile, is emerging as a solid all-Filipino force.
“The whole week, we’ve been talking about leveling up a notch,” said Vanguardia. “We got to level up. We haven’t achieved anything yet.”
“We have to be extraordinary if we hope to even make the playoffs,” he added. “I don’t think we’re extraordinary. I really think there’s much more we can offer.”
Blackwater has been successful with retouching its image even with projected franchise savior and overall pick Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser still in sick bay.
“Hopefully Brandon can join us soon. If we can still survive without him, then good. But I really think we are capable of so much more,” he said.
Vanguardia added that the versatile forward remains day-to-day, so the clash with the Bolts set at 5:15 p.m. will be anchored on underappreciated standouts JVee Casio, Yousef Taha and rookie Ato Ular.
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