The new season of the Philippine Basketball Association has yet to formally start but Blackwater is already feeling the impact of its new coach, Jeffrey Cariaso.
Bossing governor Silliman Sy said they are already feeling the presence of Cariaso since assuming the head coaching role last April.
Cariaso is a known winner.
He spent his early years in the league learning at the feet of Tim Cone at Alaska before joining competitive teams like Mobiline, Tanduay, Coca-Cola and back to Alaska.
He got reunited with Cone in 2011 and was part of his bench crew when he led San Mig Coffee to the grand slam in 2013.
Now, he is looking to pump life into Blackwater, which has yet to move past the quarterfinals since joining the league in 2014.
Cariaso said his first order of business was to change the culture of the organization.
“What I like about the team is how they respond in each of every game we played,” said Cariaso, who called the shots for the Bossing in a four-team pocket tourney together with Converge, Rain or Shine and Phoenix Super LPG.
“We played a horrible third quarter against Converge, but what I like about the team was how they approached the next two games.”
“My reminder was not to miss out — not to be too high, not to be too low — and really just get their minds ready and prepare for the next game. With that, we’re on the right path.”
Prior to assuming the coaching reins, Cariaso sat down with the Bossing management and laid out his plans in building a competitive team. Topping his list of priorities was to keep the core of the squad to achieve continuity and develop chemistry.
After all, Blackwater is known to deal away some of its promising players, including top overall pick Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser who got shipped to NLEX in a three-way trade that also involved TNT.
Cariaso will have a full season to work with, starting with the Commissioner’s Cup that opens on 5 November, where the Bossing will parade FIBA World Cup veteran Chris Ortiz of Puerto Rico.
Blackwater also acquired highly-touted Christian David, a 6-foot-6 forward from Butler University in the Division I of the US NCAA.
“We’re still learning from each other,” David said.
“A new coach is handling a new team, but I think everyone is getting along and we have good pieces.”
New additions David and Ortiz, along with veteran Troy Rosario will be complemented by veteran guards JVee Casio, Baser Amer and Rashawn McCarthy as well as Mikee DiGregorio, RK Ilagan, rising star Rey Suerte, Mike Ayonayon, Ato Ular and Yousef Taha.
Blackwater will also have rookie James Kwekuteye, who is expected to formally sign a contract as soon as his commitment in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League is over.