PENANG – They numbered less than 50 people, but their voices reverberated throughout the Han Chiang Indoor Stadium on Sunday when Blackwater clashed with tournament-favorite Zhejiang Chouzhou Commercial Bank-China in a keenly-awaited game in the 2016 Penang Chief Minister Cup Invitational Basketball championships.
Avid basketball fan Jun Silva, accompanied by his girlfriend Becky Sy and officemate Ricky Carusca, went straight to basketball venue early Sunday afternoon after playing in a nearby basketball league for Overseas Filipino Workers.
Silva said he’s been away from the Philippines for the last 8 years.
No wonder, he was delighted to see Blackwater coach Leo Isaac, one of his favorite players in the PBA during the latter’s heydays with Ginebra under then playing coach Sonny Jaworski.
And though the Elite were undersized compared to the Chinese, who boast of 3 players above 6-11, Silva had no doubt that Blackwater won’t back down
“Masayang-masaya kami dahil makita mo kahit wala na kaming boses sumisigaw kami, saka iyan ang Pinoy, maski maliit, kayang kaya yan, puso lang yan,” Silva told FOX Sports, who, along with the rest of the small Filipino contingent, energized the Elite with their loud cheers during the game.
Blackwater, buoyed up by the OFWs’ presence, roared back from a 10-point, 2nd-half deficit to snatch the game against Zhejiang Chouzhou, 77-75 behind rookie Roi Sumang’s game-winning three-point shot.
Silva and Sy said they are expecting Blackwater to win the tournament this time.
Both are convinced that the Elite are a much better team compared to the one that placed 2nd behind champion Malaysia in the 2014 edition.
“Nalaman namin ito a Facebook at sa mga friends namin,” said Silva. “Kasi 2 years ago, nanuod din kami ng Blackwater, so eto, nalaman namin kaya pumunta kami.”
After the game, Silva and the rest of the Filipino fans took groufies and selfies with the Blackwater players.
Sumang in fact, was the star of the night as he caught the fancy of the OFWs with his courageous stand against the taller Chinese, capped by his game-clinching three.
Blackwater, which improved to 3-0 after the win, only needs to beat Karnataka State-India on late Monday afternoon and host Malaysia Dragons Tuesday night to sweep the tournament and clinch the championship. – By Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava