The day after, Cervantes — a former player for the Blackwater D-League team — immediately made an impact by showing no signs of letting up,as he is already used to coach Leo Isaac’s system. Cervantes was inserted late in the first quarter, but it didn’t take long for him before hitting his stride. Furthermore, Cervantes knocked down a triple early in the second quarter. In the next play, he took his defender to school by driving hard, spinning to his left, and hitting a difficult fadeaway. He finished 13 points in his pro debut for Blackwater, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out three assists.
The Elite drubbed the Bolts, 84-72 behind 27 points and 14 rebounds from Marcus Douthit.
Isaac later told media that he feels Blackwater had a good deal, and he has a great point. Cervantes is an excellent floor-spacer, who can lure opposing bigs out of the paint, and he will easily be the best offensive option for the Elite in an all-Filipino conference. He will definitely be a boost for the Elite, and shall complement other bigs like Jason Ballesteros, Poy Erram, Bryan Faundo, and Larry Rodriguez.
“The way he played this game, I think we had a good deal. Hindi na siya iba,” Isaac said. “Hindi na siya nangangapa, and he’s been an underrated player, so maybe playing for Blackwater, he can blossom into a real star.”
Though he is a career 26 percent shooter from deep, teams know he can hit it from anywhere on the floor. He can also take it strong to the hoop, and all Blackwater has to do is to field in shooters and bigs, who will cut to the basket for a possible drop pass or kick-out pass.
It showed against Meralco, when he was able to open the lane. There were times where he faked the shot and dished out last-second passes to cutting bigs, which reciprocated his vision with easy baskets.
Poy Erram was a main benefactor of this as he actively looked for open spots underneath the rim. Erram finished with a career-high 21 points and added seven rebounds and five blocks.
“Ang game plan namin is since magdodouble-team ang Meralco, yung man na noon ang magka-cut,” Erram said. “Nagawa naman namin ng maganda.”
Blackwater also unloaded a wing guy, and that might probably increase the minutes of Bambam Gamalinda, Val Acuña, Gilbert Bulawan, and Robby Celiz.
The deal is obviously a long-term plan for the Elite, as they hope to make it even bigger in the next seasons to come.
“We like the team we have right now. Hopefully, we can develop it into a more competitive team,” Isaac concluded.