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Elite out to sustain winning run

By John Bryan Ulanday

Surging Blackwater is out to notch its third straight win when it clashes with hungry TNT side in a crucial Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup match today at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Riding on a confidence-boosting rout of contender Barangay Ginebra last week, the Elite eye to duplicate the feat against another top-tier KaTropa squad in the main game at 7pm.
Prior to that, Phoenix Petroleum seeks its third win in a row against Rain or Shine in the curtain-raiser at 4:30 pm.
Although the Elite remain wary of the heavily-favored TNT, coach Leo Isaac thrusts his vote of confidence on his wards, who are all now conditioned with a winning mentality.
"It's just a matter of believing in ourselves," Isaac stressed. "We tried to convince and condition the mind of our players that the opponents may be good individually, but also our players, they are good if they will believe in themselves."
Indeed, after starting the season with a narrow 103-98 loss to Meralco, the Elite have now clinched two gigantic wins in a row with an 92-87 win over Rain or Shine and the 94-77 domination of last year's finalists Gin Kings.
"Maybe if we can beat Rain or Shine and Ginebra, both had beaten us since we joined the PBA, and we have broken that spell, maybe we can break the other spells on the other teams and start being on the winning end every time we play good quality basketball teams," Isaac said.
Aside from added playoff experience last season, proving to be a vital cog in Blackwater's recent run was the return of its marquee players from injury in JP Erram (anterior cruciate ligament) and Mac Belo (knee injury) who, slowly but surely, are living up to their potentials.
The 6-foot-7 Erram stood his ground against Ginebra's twin towers Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks while Belo made it rain from outside with 22 points of his own.
Isaac, however, warned his wards not to be complacent, reiterating they haven't achieved anything yet and should remain grounded.
"Like with this win against the number one team, going into the game against TNT, we have to emphasize that we have to start from scratch and forget about this victory,” he said.

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