What looked like a roster upgrade poised to compete very well in the All Filipino Conference of our very own Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is turning out to be a disappointment for the Blackwater Elite.  Currently at the cellar with a 2-7 win loss record as of this writing, Blackwater is looking like a team starting all over like a new franchise.

With a roster filled with talents such as Roi Sumang, Mac Belo, Chris Javier, Allein Maliksi, promising rookies Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter along with comebacking Rabeh Al Hussaini, no one was expecting such results on the hard court.

Yes they traded an All Star caliber big man in JP Erram and missed the services of super rookie Bobby Ray Parks (currently completing his obligations with Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League) but their roster today, with a few seasons tucked under their belts, we all expected the Elite to give teams a hard time this season.  Alas, Columbian Dyip, last year’s whipping boys, are playing much better this season with a 4-5 slate thanks to a rag tag crew of blue collar players willing and eager to prove their worth in the big league.

Head coach Bong Ramos, who took over the helm last year from Leo Isaac, has a lot of work and tweaking to do if he wants to turn things around this season. My assessment is that Blackwater can and should match up well with others. They have no all star in the line up now, but their bigs and wings are no push overs. If there’s an upgrade needed, I believe they need a playmaker in the backcourt. Currently alternating at the 1- spot are Roi Sumang, Gelo Alolino and Diego Dario.

What the Elite needs right now is a facilitator, a court general in the mould of an LA Tenorio, LA Revilla or  Alex Cabagnot.  The Cool Cat Mike Cortez is still in the roster but he is a step slower nowadays after battling injuries over the years.

I believe there is some roster shake up needed to shore up the back court.  Blackwater has an abundance of young bigs they can use as trade bait for teams with an abundance of playmakers that need to fill the 4 or 5 spot.  A package of a wing or guard with a big man can also entice some teams to consider a trade.  Let’s see how Blackwater management and ownership react to the Elite’s case over the next few weeks.

Why Not Form an MPBL Team in Palawan?

The Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) 2018-2019 season is entering the knock out stages and I should say that this league, operated by Sen. Manny Pacquiao and currently headed by commissioner Kenneth Duremdes, is very much holding its own.  When you watch the games on TV, you will see arenas packed very much like the old MBA (Metropolitan Basketball Association) tournament in the late 90’s.

The MPBL concept tapped the regional affinity and approach that was the secret sauce of the MBA. City or town based teams battling each other for hardcourt supremacy.  Teams like the Bataan Risers, San Juan Knights, Makati Supercrunch, Batangas City Athletics and the Davao Occidental Tigers are very much in the upper ranks of the league today with loyal fans trooping to support their teams.

Frankly speaking, I should say that some MPBL games even have more venue viewers than some PBA matches. I believe the mass appeal is bringing the MPBL to levels of support the MBA had back in the days when they were inches to topping the PBA in fan base and loyalty.

 Sen. Pacquiao and Commissioner Duremdes are pushing the right buttons growing the MPBL with active participation across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.  I also believe that for us to promote sports further in Palawan, we need to consider forming a Puerto Princesa Palawan basketball team for the MPBL. We may need to start off recruiting ex pros and some collegiate players outside the province and start developing home grown athletes in our area. We even have a world class coliseum right in the center of Puerto Princesa ready for use if we decide to join.

If other cities and provinces are joining the bandwagon of the MPBL, it would be great to start having our very own professional ball club, Palawan.

(The writer is a senior leader of the only Business Process Outsourcing Contact Center and largest private direct hiring company in Puerto Princesa.  Share your insights or sports stories with Marc via mcalumba@gmail.com)

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