Vanguardia starts from scratch

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Vanguardia starts from scratch
Ariel Vanguardia
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Newly-designated Blackwater head coach Ariel Vanguardia isn’t shirking from the daunting task of taking over a PBA team that now holds the pro league record for the longest losing streak at 19. “I’m used to rebuilding,” said Vanguardia. “It’s my niche. I turned a weak team into a contender at JRU, same thing in Malaysia where I made players na mahiyain into champions in the ABL and with Phoenix where I brought in Matthew Wright and made it competitive.”

Blackwater owner Dioceldo Sy asked the entire coaching staff to resign after the Bossing ended the Philippine Cup eliminations with a 0-11 record then appointed Vanguardia to start from scratch.

“My first priority is to put together my staff,” said Vanguardia. “In a few days, I’ll start talking to each player, one by one. Honestly, I don’t see the players proud of being with Blackwater. I don’t see them walking around in Blackwater shirts or posting pictures in social media wearing their Blackwater uniforms. Even players in MPBL are proud of their teams. That has to change. Blackwater is paying their salaries and they should be proud to be in the PBA. I’m hoping to build a culture of pride in our brand.”

Finding a leader among the players is another priority and Vanguardia said a leading candidate is Baser Amer. “I’ve always liked Baser even when I was with Phoenix,” he said. “I know what he can do on the floor. Right now, I can’t envision an equal opportunity system with our team because of our talent level so I expect a point guard like Baser to make the correct decisions and to take the shot when it’s necessary. Baser was like Kiefer Ravena in the NCAA, the go-to guy at San Beda and at Meralco, he played a bit of that role.”

Vanguardia said he’ll look into who’s available in the free agent market to bolster the Blackwater cast. “There are guys in 3x3 lineups who could fit in like Val Chauca and Sean Manganti,” he said. “But they might already be signed to contracts. It’s important to get the team back together again. We won’t progress if we’re divided. I know some players had a falling out with the previous coaching staff. My immediate goal in the second conference is to end our losing streak then we’ll take it from there.”

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