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Semifinal breakthrough for Elite?

LOS ANGELES – Blackwater Elite PBA governor Silliman Sy said the other day the team is ready to make a serious semifinal push this coming season. Since Blackwater entered the league in 2014-15, the Elite has gone as far as the quarterfinals only twice in nine conferences. But the trend is upward as Blackwater posted a 4-19 record in its first season, 7-27 in its second and 13-23 in its third.

The Elite has come a long way from when it went 0-11 in its first conference and 1-10 in back-to-back Governors Cups. Last season, Blackwater registered a 6-7 mark in the Governors Cup, its best record ever, and stunned eventual finalist Meralco, 92-91, in the first game of their playoff duel where the Bolts had a twice to beat advantage. The Elite was a win away from qualifying for the semifinals but failed to repeat over Meralco and lost, 104-96, as Baser Amer erupted for 31 points.

If Blackwater survived Meralco, the Elite would’ve advanced to face Star in the best-of-five semifinals. Import Henry Walker brought Blackwater to the brink of reaching the semifinals. The NBA veteran who previously suited up for Alaska and NLEX came in after the Elite started the conference at 0-3 with Trevis Simpson. He promptly led Blackwater to three straight wins in a comeback surge. Now, Blackwater is thinking of bringing back Walker for both the next Commissioner’s and Governors Cups like what Barangay Ginebra did with Justin Brownlee last season.

“If Amer didn’t get hot, we could’ve beaten Meralco to make it to the semifinals and I think we would’ve taken out Star because Henry’s a much better player than (Kristofer) Acox,” said Sy. “We could’ve actually gone to the Finals. That’s how close we were. We’re excited about the coming season and our goal is to reach the semifinals for the first time.”

Sy said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac’s contract was extended for another year. Assistant coach Bong Ramos has left for a two-year assignment in the Indonesian league and former player Denok Miranda is being considered to fill the gap in the staff. First round draft pick Toto Jose has been signed to a three-year contract and fourth round choice Kyle Neypes to a one-conference deal. Negotiations are ongoing to retain KG Canaleta and James Sena but with pay cuts. Former PBA star Vince Hizon remains a coaching consultant and alternate governor.

Author: Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star
Full Article: http://www.philstar.com/sports/2017/11/16/1759433/semifinal-breakthrough-elite

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