ENTERING their second season in the Philippine Basketball Association, both Mahindra and Blackwater are looking to continue their growth and establish themselves as viable teams in the league.
The sophomore teams are looking to improve this 41st season with a year of experience in the bag and an improved roster.
For Mahindra, formerly known as Kia, it aims to move past all the distractions and pull off more surprises on the playing court in the coming season.
Its build up wasn’t actually the smoothest as the team encountered several issues in the past two weeks regarding contract disputes with current and former players. But after resolving all the issues and putting all those distractions aside, the Enforcers are now looking forward to their campaign in the coming season.
Line-up wise, the Manny Pacquiao-mentored squad added some much-needed veteran presence after it acquired capable scorer and shooter Niño Canaleta, as well as improving swingman Aldrech Ramos to lead the team’s charge.
Key holdovers LA Revilla, who had a breakout showing last season, Hyram Bagatsing and Mark Yee as well as new acquisitions Paolo Hubalde and Nard Pinto are all expected to be key contributors.
In its debut season, Mahindra actually had a promising run in both the Commissioner’s and Governors’ Cup, where it even contended for a playoffs slot before falling short. The team was able to shock teams such as Talk ‘N Text, Star, San Miguel and Alaska and it now looks to improve on that showing this season.
In the off-season, the Enforcers played in several pocket tournaments. They showed the most improvement when they finished second behind GlobalPort in a tourney in General Santos.
After a forgettable initial season where it didn’t win a game until the Commissioner’s Cup, Blackwater did its own retooling as well.
The Elite will have key additions to its team. They acquired veteran point guard Mike Cortez and promising shooting guard Carlo Lastimosa through trades. They also added promising rookies Arthur Dela Cruz, Almond Vosotros and Keith Agovida to help out.
Blackwater coach Leo Isaac noticed the development of his team as the Elite was able to do really well in an international tournament in Malaysia where it placed second.
‘’We can see the improvement of the team this early,’’ said Isaac. ‘’There were a lot of positives in our off-season training so far. We were able to get guys who can help us out. We’re hoping to translate that to more wins this season.’’
The frontline of Blackwater is intact as it was able to keep big men Jason Ballesteros, Frank Golla, Poy Erram, Reil Cervantes and Gilbert Bulawan. They also added veteran big John Sena for further ceiling.
The immediate goal of the Elite is to avoid finishing in last place in all three conferences