Blackwater's youth and inexperience showed on Wednesday after it suffered a 28-point beatdown at the hands of TNT to open its PBA Governors' Cup campaign at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After losing both their Terrific 12 games in Macau by a total of 56 points, the Elite were not able to switch things up in their league return and failed to provide resistance against KJ McDaniels (41 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks, two steals) and the rest of the KaTropa.
Import Marqus Blakely, who was quiet in his PBA comeback and tallied just four points, five rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes, said the loss was an indication that Blackwater still had "a lot of learning to do."
"Being a very young team, learning from your mistakes is what's going to get you a lot better and I just think tonight we didn't," lamented Blakely.
The 2013 Best Import went on to calmly point out how the Elite need to "buy in" by doing the little things on the court aside from scoring.
"One of the main things [you have to do to get better] is playing together, trusting each other, buying in. Those are the things that don't show on the scoreboard but will show on the scoreboard. When it comes down to stats and the understanding that it's not what winning's about... not until we all buy in for the goal [will stuff change]," he added.
Blakely did not specify any names, but the box score provided some clues as to what areas Blackwater needed to improve on. Five other locals picked up the slack on offense, but no one -- not even Ray Parks, who was a team-worst minus-28 in 42 minutes despite finishing with 39 points -- had a positive net rating.
That could largely be attributed to the Elite's showing on defense, which allowed TNT to shoot 14-for-25 on threes and score 135 points and on 60.9 percent shooting from the field. Blackwater also lost the battle on the glass by a mile, 54-37.
"Like I said, we're young. I think that's something that we have to continue to work on," he added. "We're not here just to play, we're here to win, and I think that's another thing about buying in. We're here to win so anything that we need to do as individual to help the team, that's what we have to do."
Blakely also pledged to be a better leader for the Elite and said that he's going to start calling out players if they're not living up to their roles on the floor.
"I will take the blame for today's game because as a leader, I allowed a lot of that stuff to happen and for here on now, I will take it under my wing to hold people accountable whether defensively, offensively, shot selection, boxing out, whatever it is. If we're not going to do those things, I will let you know about it," he said.
The Elite will try to put up a better showing when they face NLEX on Sunday, September 29, at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex in Laguna.