Elite focused in bid to get back on track

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    SHOWING ‘EM: After months of watching from the sidelines, Calvin Abueva proves he still has what it takes, helping Phoenix score a 114-110 win over Will McAloney and NLEX in last Monday’s game. PBA PHOTO

    BLACKWATER is not letting a little inconvenience and the absence of one player detract it from its purpose of getting back on track in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.

    League officials are still waiting for official word on whether the Elite could go ahead and play the Magnolia Hotshots today, but were confident the green light would come later and the game could push through.

    “Hininhintay lang namin approval ng Department of Health,” Commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday. “Kapag hindi pa rin dumating today, susulat na kami sa DOH, ide-detalye namin kung ano lahat nangyari.”

    Marcial was referring to the confirmatory tests that showed the Blackwater player, who initially tested positive for the coronavirus, was free of the virus after all.

    The initial result, obtained last Saturday and announced the day after, forced the PBA to cancel the Blackwater-Rain or Shine game originally scheduled later Sunday. Also reset to a later date was the TNT-NorthPort duel last Monday since the Tropang Giga played the Elite last Thursday.

    All the TNT players have previously tested negative, and all tested negative anew after more tests last Sunday.

    Blackwater coach Nash Racela is confident the game against Magnolia, set before the San Miguel Beer-Meralco match in the nightcap, would be given the green light by the government agency.

    “They allowed us to practice yesterday and today so we’re assuming na tuloy,” Racela said on the eve of the match.

    Racela also admitted the incident could take its toll on his players.

    “It could work both ways. It becomes a positive thing because it gives our players time for recovery, especially those nursing some injuries. Siyempre nakakatulong sa kanila iyon,” said Racela.

    “Kaya lang, kapalit noon… because of the set-up that we have na tuloy-tuloy ang games, it takes away your timing. Kasi nga may routine na katawan mo. Hopefully, it doesn’t really affect us that much. I guess physically, the bodies have adjusted to the bubble set-up. But I think mentally, having to absorb the positive result, I think it affects the team negatively in a way. But we have no choice but to stay positive, be on top of the situation.”

    The Elite should set their minds straight for them to snap out of a three-game slide and hurdle a tough Magnolia side still on a high after manhandling Ginebra 102-92 last Sunday.

    “Naka-buwelo na si Magnolia. Siyempre coming off a win over the previously unbeaten Ginebra… confidence-booster ‘yun para sa kanila,” said Racela. “It will require a lot from us, in both offense and defense, to be able to match up with Magnolia.”

    San Miguel Beer and Meralco also expect the same gargantuan task at hand as each tries to extend its winning run to three.