Dribble Media will roll out report cards for each team that already saw their 2022-23 Governors’ Cup campaign end. We’ll start with the Blackwater Bossing, who finished with only one win this conference.
Blackwater failed to build on its gains from the previous two conferences. After a surprise playoff appearance in the Philippine Cup and a three-win campaign in the Commissioner’s Cup, Blackwater regressed to its old self in the Governors’ Cup: a team without an identity on both offense and defense. They finished the conference with the worst net rating (-15.2) and the worst record (1-11) in the league.
Note: Stats courtesy of RealGM as of March 14, 2023
Points Per Game: 101.5 (12th)
Offensive Rating: 106.6 (12th)
True Shooting %: 53.6% (11th)
Blackwater was actually a decent three-point shooting team; they hit 35% of their threes, which currently ranks them 5th in three-point percentage. However, Blackwater’s lack of consistent downhill finishers and inside scorers hurt their offense. They had the worst percentage on two-point field goals (49%) and the second-lowest number of free throw attempts (20.2).
Without the ability to put constant pressure on the rim, Blackwater’s offense was often stagnant. A large chunk of their possessions ended with their import Shawn Glover trying to bail them out, and Glover is not the best at creating his shots.
Bright Spot: RK Ilagan’s playmaking potential
RK Ilagan averaged just 17.5 minutes in his debut conference for the team. However, among the Blackwater guards who saw significant minutes, I thought he showed the most potential for the playmaker that Blackwater desperately needs. Baser Amer is a decent floor general who could steady the ship. The 36-year-old Jvee Casio is still a reliable hand, although he mostly played off-ball for Blackwater to utilize his movement shooting. Rashawn McCarthy led the team in assists (4.5), but his iffy shot selection caused terrible offensive possessions.
But without a legitimate paint scorer, Blackwater badly needed a playmaker who could get the ball moving with his dribble penetrations. Enter Ilagan: a three-point threat with a propensity for putting pressure on the rim.
Ilagan averaged 9.4 points (61.4% True Shooting) and 3.7 assists in the Governors’ Cup. Opposing defenses must respect his excellent three-point shooting (47% clip on 4.8 3PA), which allows him to create scoring opportunities off dribble penetrations.
Of course, Ilagan is still a work in progress, particularly on defense. His 5-foot-7 frame gives up a lot of length to bigger guards, especially if Blackwater continues to field him with the second unit alongside the 5-foot-10 Casio. But with his potential on offense, look for Ilagan to earn more minutes and workload next season.
Opponent Points Per Game: 115.9 (11th)
Defensive Rating: 121.8 (10th)
Opponent True Shooting %: 59.3% (11th)
As expected, Blackwater struggled mightily on the defensive end this conference. Their point-of-attack defense was extremely lacking, especially with opposing teams exploiting their small backcourt. Blackwater must address their perimeter defense woes to improve on this side of the court.
Bright Spot: A bit of Troy Rosario
Troy Rosario didn’t have a very productive campaign, at least on the stat sheet. He also looked slower, which was probably a sign that he’s still not a hundred percent healthy coming off a foot injury he sustained during the Commissioner’s Cup.
But Rosario still had moments of brilliance on defense, something that Blackwater could build on for next season. Rosario is an adept help defender, and his ability to guard multiple positions allows him to defend imports or switch if the team calls for that coverage.
Rosario, when fully healthy, could be the cornerstone of Blackwater’s defense. However, the team has to do its job of acquiring point-of-attack defenders who could contain ballhandlers or at least delay their penetrations.
Overall Grade: C-
Blackwater was a difficult team to watch this conference. The offensive struggles of their core players (like Amer and McCarthy) were concerning, and Glover was relatively average compared to his counterparts. Blackwater finished the season with nine straight losses, and this trend will just continue if they don’t shake up the roster for the better.