Things have seemingly gone bright within the Blackwater Elite camp again, thanks to the arrival of Staphon Blair.
Badly missing an import in the last two games following the departure of Alex Stepheson, the Elite have gone back on track in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup with Blair in tow as they downed the Magnolia Hotshots, 104-99, Friday.
Seeing action for exactly 36 minutes, the 26-year-old center out of University of Central Florida had 14 points and 14 rebounds, but his presence on the defensive end was felt the most as he racked up five blocks and a steal.
Friday’s triumph, though, was not just a simple skid-ending victory for Blackwater. It had marked their sixth win in nine outings in this mid-season conference, which means that they are now assured of a spot in the playoffs.
That’s what makes Blair — the Elite’s third import this conference as he replaced Jameel McKay — so glad.
“I’m happy for the opportunity. I was happy that I was able to come and help the team to put them in a playoff spot,” he said.
“It’s nothing better than showing up and win in my first game and actually clinch a playoff spot. It’s a good feeling.”
It was truly a great way for Blair to mark the start of his journey in Asia’s pioneering pro league. The Florida-native expressed that he likes the style of play in the PBA, but was quick to add that he still has some adjusting to do.
“I like the league a lot. It’s physical but it’s not physical to where you can play with all the tactic and all the … You gotta be careful, you gotta play smart, and you gotta actually think the game. And that’s what I have to learn, pick up on,” he said.
Blair and Blackwater have two more games left to try and improve their seeding for the playoffs. But a daunting task is waiting for them this Sunday, as they will be facing Terrence Jones and the top-seeded TNT KaTropa.
Blair, however, is ready.
“I saw they have an NBA star. He’s pretty good, so I’m ready for the matchup,” the three-year pro said.
“It’s just gonna push me to play harder, you know, do the best I can, and keep on playing the game, play smart, and listen to the coaches.”