Eros Stock – Nash Racela adopting a ‘long-term approach’ in Blackwater’s development
A year and a half after taking the reins for the Blackwater franchise, coach Nash Racela continues to maintain a “long-term” view in building and developing a young Bossing core.
“I always have this approach entering a team that I always think long-term, expecting and hoping that when I take the job, I’ll be with them for a long while,” Racela said on the Power & Play radio show hosted by former P(BA) commissioner Noli Eala.
“I don’t want to think short-term because your decision-making is affected. My vision is always long-term in teams that I’ve held.”
For the short-term, Racela’s Bossings will try to buckle down together, especially after trading away their pillars in the offseason.
“We’ve lost two of our leaders in the previous trades. Right now, the approach is we try to bring out the leadership in everyone. So we want the approach to be a collective leadership,” said Racela, referring to separate transactions that saw Mac Belo and Don Trollano head on over to Meralco and NLEX, respectively.
“It’s hard to find just one leader in a team, and that’s the kind of experience we had when we were with Talk ‘N Text when we lost Jimmy Alapag. They had a hard time replacing Jimmy,” the 49-year-old mentor continued, this time referencing a brief two-year tenure with the Talk ‘N Text franchise that ended in 2018. “I’ve always believed in collective leadership; all of us can be leaders. So if we are able to develop that kind of culture in Blackwater, then yeah, it will be good for us moving forward.”
Trollano led the team in scoring during the 2020 Philippine Cup by averaging 14.2 points on 37.6 percent shooting for Blackwater, which went 2-1 in the first three games before losing eight straight the rest of the way. The 6-foot-3 swingman was dealt to the NLEX in a three-team trade that gave the Bossing Simon Enciso, David Semerad, and two future picks from TNT.
Also included in that deal was Roi Sumang, who averaged 10.4 points (fourth team-wide) on 40.9 percent shooting while ranking ninth league-wide in assists (4.3) inside the Clark bubble.
Belo, meanwhile, ranked third team-wide with 11.4 points on 38.2 percent shooting while adding 5.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 10 games. Blackwater dealt him a month before the Trollano trade in exchange for guard Baser Amer and center Bryan Faundo.
Canaleta ranked second behind Trollano in team scoring, averaging 11.7 points on 39.8 percent shooting to go with 4.3 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per contest. The 39-year-old forward was relatively efficient overall, posting a 53.5% true shooting percentage (TS%) — a mark well-above league-average — per RealGM.
“We’ve lost three of our top scorers in those trades — Sumang, Belo and Trollano. The three of them gave us 36 points during the bubble. The next top scorer after those three was KG. We think we’ll keep that going. We expect KG to contribute more on offense,” Racela said.
Racela said the new acquisitions will be just as important. Aside from Enciso and Amer, Blackwater also picked up big man Kelly Nabong from the free agent pool to shore up its thin frontline.
“We’ve brought in Baser and Simon. Those guys could score. We also think they can help on offense. It gives us a little bit more flexibility because our guards, in a way, could also score,” he said.
“We’ve also added Kelly Nabong in the free agent market. That’s one approach that we’re taking: we’re looking at the free agent market because, of course, with the influx of a lot of very talented rookies, many veterans will get displaced. And these veterans could really play in the P(BA) for a long time,” he added.
The freshmen selected in the Rookie Draft last March are expected to contribute right away since forward Joshua Torralba and big men Andre Paras and Rey Mark Acuno all fill positions of need, according to Racela.
“Based on what I’m seeing from those two (Acuno and Paras) plus Torralba is the toughness. That’s one reason we got those three guys. We saw that these are kids who can hustle and fight. They don’t just think about their offense, they are two-way players. They put emphasis on their defense and their hustle. I think that’s what they can give us,” the coach raved. “That kind of mentality, mixed with the veterans, that should give you positive output.”
Still, the fact remains that Blackwater is ways away from breaking into the league’s elite. What’s important for Racela, though, is that the whole core puts in the effort to give them a fighting chance, regardless of the odds.
“The most important thing for us is we see the competitive spirit of the players. Going back to the bubble last year, we talked about Ron Dennison, who is not really a very talented player but he will not lack the effort, he’ll keep fighting. If we could just multiply that — if we have less talented players but they all have that fighting attitude — then that really gives you confidence as a coach. You know that a certain given time, you have five players who will really fight. That will really give you a good chance every game.”