KG Canaleta of Blackwater scoops a layup during their game against Magnolia Wednesday night. (PBA Images)

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Coach Nash Racela believes that the story would have been different for Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup had it won its close encounters against San Miguel and Meralco.  

Coming off the brief postponement and holding a decent 2-3 record, the Elite surrendered a 90-88 decision in overtime to the Beermen on November 3 before narrowly losing to the Bolts, 89-85, in next day’s game that was marred by a late commotion. 

Blackwater was not able to come back from those two heartbreaking defeats and went on to drop their next four games, including a 95-80 defeat to Magnolia to close its campaign on Wednesday night at the AUF Arena.  

“If we have gotten one game doon sa (first) back-to-back, it could have been a different conference for us,” said Racela, whose side ended the eliminations with a six-game losing slide for an overall 2-9 card. 

The 48-year-old mentor rued their missed chance against San Miguel and a crucial wrong call late in their game versus Meralco, which he said the league officers later admitted upon review.  

Don Trollano made a basket to tie the game at 70-all but was called for an offensive foul, allowing the Bolts to break away 74-68 en route to the win. 

“Very unfortunate but it’s something that we could learn from. Hopefully next time those things (that) we can’t control will turn to our side.” 

But prior to those losses, the Elite already suffered setbacks midway through the All-Filipino tournament.  

A Blackwater player became one of the two “false positives” inside the bubble, resulting in the postponement of its games. 

Racela’s squad went on a 12-day layoff and was forced to play six games in nine days after the league resumed following a short pause to comply with the new protocols set by the IATF and DOH. 

Injuries also compounded the Elite’s problems, with No. 2 pick Maurice Shaw struggling with back spasms, Mac Belo playing limited minutes due to injury and Paul Desiderio needing to go home to treat his leg injury and attend to personal matters. 

“Not the best experience in the bubble for Blackwater. I can’t enumerate a lot of things that we’ve encountered inside. I cannot deny that it affected us also while we’re here. But we just wanted to give ourselves a chance that’s why we just kept on fighting.” 

Still, Racela and his young squad could look back to the learnings they had during the remarkable bubble season. 

“Ang importante lang is we do our part and hopefully we learn from this bubble experience that we could bring positive moving forward.” 

Source: Manila Bulletin (