Blackwater has conjured magic one game after another in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup.
Right now, the Elite are inching closer to a playoff appearance after a forgettable Commissioner's Cup that saw them win only one game.
Everything is falling into place for Blackwater. That's because the locals, whose confidence is sky-high, are complementing import Henry Walker. Most of the time, the former NBA player didn't need to carry the team on his shoulders to win a game.
"This conference, in every game that we win, different players stepped up," said Blackwater gunner Allein Maliksi in the aftermath of a 99-93 win over Rain or Shine to grab a share of the lead with Ginebra at 6-1.
The team has definitely become a revelation in the season-ending conference, beating juggernauts in Ginebra and Meralco. But the Elite are not letting that get into their heads.
Blackwater coach Bong Ramos said the team, which is never lacking in firepower with the likes of import Henry Walker, Maliksi, Mike Digregorio, and John Pinto leading the charge, is just focusing on improving its defense each game.
"I don't want to think about the playoffs," said Blackwater coach Bong Ramos. "We will just approach it one game at a time. We will just play defense and try our best to contain their (opponents') main man."
Mike Digregorio, who topscored for the Elite with 17 points in Sunday's match, said they are eyeing a twice-to-beat advantage to improve their chances of making the semifinals of the conference for the first time.
"I don't know if six gets us in but we're pushing for twice to beat. A lot of teams are up there with us. We're gonna continue to push and work hard every single day and prepare hard," he said.
Walker, though, has other things in mind.
The former NBA player said he's not going to settle for anything less than a championship.
"I'm going for that trophy. It doesn't matter who we play, I'm going for the win," he said. "My teammates are confident, they're coming for the win. It doesn't matter who we play, when we play. We're hungry."
Pinto: Walker big reason for Blackwater's success
Pinto shared the limelight with import Henry Walker Sunday night.
He finished the game with 16 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, while adding five rebounds, an assist and a block. Walker, on the other hand, completed a triple-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. The two shared Best Player of the game honors.
But Pinto was quick to deflect the credit to Walker, saying the import's locker-room presence was the main reason for the Elite's scintillating run this conference.
"Henry always pushes us, be it in practice or during the game. He's such a big part of our success today as a team," Pinto told ESPN5 on Sunday.
Pinto, the 19th overall pick of GlobalPort in the 2014 PBA Rookie Draft, also credited veteran guard Mike Cortez for giving him pointers as the 27-year-old guard out of Arellano continues to make strides in his young PBA career.
"We always take a positive approach in the game and Mike Cortez always guides me and teachers me things in practice and in games," added Pinto.
At 6-1, the Elite will try to keep their winning run going when they clash with the Magnolia Pambansang Manok this Wednesday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
A win could practically seal Blackwater's spot in the playoff while enhancing the team's top four aspirations as well.