After ending the Philippine Cup by almost making the playoffs, the Blackwater Elite entered the Commissioners Cup full of hope. However, sophomore Art dela Cruz suffered a conference-ending injury (ruptured achilles) just two days before the conference began, while rookie Mac Belo decided to have surgery on a nagging injury.
With both of their aces out, Greg Smith and the rest of the Elite have had to put up gallant stands, but have picked up just a single win in six games.
Sunday night — during the first 36 minutes of their game against contenders Meralco Bolts — they looked poised to take the game. However, the Bolts clamped down on defense in the final frame, limiting the Elite to just 11 fourth-quarter points that led to a 102-91 loss — arguably one of their toughest losses of this conference.
“They played good defense. They started containing our plays. I think we just started to just chill and not aggressive like we were in the first three quarters. That kinda hurt us in the fourth,” lamented Smith, who finished the game with 19 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and three block.
The 26-year-old American has posted norms of 27.67 points on 52.02 percent shooting to go along with 21.67 rebounds this conference. But without the same firepower that the other teams possess, Blackwater are struggling to rack up the wins.
Smith remains defiant, though, saying that a turnaround can still happen and a playoff appearance is still possible.
“Basically, we gotta keep fighting. Continue to fight, continue to fight because you never know when it’s gonna be our turn to come up with a winning streak,” the former Houston Rocket relayed about the team’s mindset.
“We still got five more games left. I know that any day, any game, it can turn around. We can win five straight, or four of the last five. Anything can still happen.
“There’s no reason to look back at these first six games thinking we’re done and we’re not good enough. Now, it’s time to get back to practice on Tuesday, learn to fight more, and start to prepare for the next games for us to win,” the 6-foot-10 center furthered.
Every war is started with a battle cry. For Smith and the Elite, it’s about continuing to fight until the final buzzer sounds.