LOOKING AT BLACKWATER AFTER THE EXPANSION DRAFT
Now that the expansion draft is done, let’s grade first the selection of Blackwater Sports that will be coached by former Ginebra San Miguel great Leo Isaac.
Center: Danny Ildefonso, JP Erram, Bryan Faundo,
Power Forward: Eddie Laure, Gilbert Bulawan
Small Forward: JR Cawaling, Norman Gonzales, Bam Gamalinda
Shooting Guard: Alex Nuyles, Robby Celiz
Point Guard: Paul Artadi, Chris Timberlake
Blackwater will be able to add several more players in the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft as they have the 12th and last pick of the first round and the 11th pick of the second round.
Looking at their selections from the expansion draft, what they have is a halfcourt team. It’s a slow team that won’t necessarily get out on the break. If they do run, they have Alex Nuyles who should play a big role in this team. There’s JR Cawaling, although he is more of a shooter than a finisher on the break, and Paul Artadi and Chris Timberlake. And make no mistake, JP Erram can run the floor too.
But before you can run, you have to be able to rebound that ball and that brings us to the men who will patrol that shaded lane.
They have players who can pound the ball inside in Danny Ildefonso, Bryan Faundo, Erram, and Gilbert Bulawan.
I don’t see Danny playing long minutes but if kept fresh and given some minutes, he might be a huge factor. Lakay has a lot of motivation going on and will be eager to prove that he isn’t washed up.
Of the three others, I am higher on JP Erram provided he gets his confidence going. He has a decent medium range jumper and if finally playing with that confidence we saw while in college, can be deadly with putbacks and hooks inside. I’m sure he’ll even throw down a few rim rattlers. In fact, he could be the primary rim protector as he’s a very good shot blocker.
Bryan Faundo and Gilbert Bulawan could be the Bruise Brothers of Blackwater…. provided they score more points than they bump and thump opponents around.
Eddie Laure will be the other senior citizen in this bunch. He will bring a lot of professionalism and work ethic to this team. Like Danny, won’t be getting too many minutes but hoping he can be an impact player in those limited minutes.
Alex Nuyles can swing over here because they will need someone to break down the defense on the wing. If he can develop a more consistent jump shot he’ll be an even bigger threat.
Nuyles, could be the most important player in this roster. If he realizes what he can do for this team such as score, defend, and create for teammates, they’ll make it difficult for many an opponent.
JR Cawaling can shoot. Just needs to be more consistent.
Bam Gamalinda, if he can use Ranidel De Ocampo as a template for the player he should be, will help.
Norman Gonzales… this guy knows what battling impossible odds is all about. From his days of being accused of drug use to making a comeback with Sta. Lucia and playing for the Saigon Heat in the ABL. It would be interesting to see what he can contribute to this team given his age.
Nuyles can play here or if not Robby Celiz. Consistency is a word that will be bounced around a lot for Blackwater. If Celiz can hit that outside shot with consistency, he will help the forwards and centers. If he misfires and there is no consistent or real scary outside threat here, it’s going to be a long day at the office.
Paul Artadi’s weakness has been his outside shot. He more than made up for that with his speed and willingness to drive inside. It would be interesting to see how he adapts his strengths to this squad. If he can be a true point guard and set up teammates, Coach Leo will have found his playmaker. If it works, he could form a great partnership with Alex Nuyles.
Chris Timberlake. Much the same with Artadi. Gotta work on his playmaking and outside shot.
The challenges for Blackwater:
The trick with expansion teams is that all these guys are discards. They’ll be hungry for the ball and looking to put up points on the board. If players are reigned in so as not to be selfish – given proper backing by management – they’ll do all right. If not and they all look for their own shot, they’ll be blown off the floor.
What they will want to do is to keep the game close so they have a chance. They do not have the personnel to compete… yet. So they want to play smart and keep the game close.
Think of themselves as this year’s Ginebra. Yes, the Ginebra of old and not the superstar laden team it has been in the last decade or so. The old Ginebra of Jawo was filled with discards, has beens, and veterans. Isaac was one of the young guns on that team along with Dondon Ampalayo. He was a shooting guard and small forward who was also tasked to bring up the ball. He sure knows the feeling and he might be the perfect coach for this team.
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