Blackwater Elite, once a PBA D-League powerhouse has just finished its first season in the “big league” PBA only to perform as expected. With only four wins to show for throughout the season, their management wishes for things to be better, but for the young inexperienced roster they fielded this season, things could have been much worse.

After the season, Blackwater Elite consistently ranks at the bottom three of each of the four factors.

Leading off the Bench | HumbleBola

The team is not expected to stay this way forever. One of the keys to their future success may lie in their last two games of the season.

In those games, a notable mid-season sign up was fielded in what could be seen as some of the less lop-sided losses they’ve had all season. Instead of being blown out of the water, they pushed their game against NLEX into overtime and managed to keep the final score against the Star Hotshots within two possessions. Both games were participated and influenced by one Jerick Cañada, a mid-season pickup for the Elite which they have not activated until the last two games.

The former ABL Finals MVP’s two game showing might just be what the Elite need in order to start making waves in the PBA. Cañada is no stranger to contributing off the bench. In the UAAP, he would trade starting roles with Lester Alvarez to power Adamson to one of their strongest performances in recent years. Even in the professional leagues, he helped the Indonesia Warriors beat the San Miguel Beermen by coming off the bench and controlling the pace for his team, eventually earning him Finals MVP honors.

In their game against the Road Warriors, Cañada again showed how and why he is a sought after 6th man. His offensive rating shot through the roof at 135.6 at a 17.3 usage rate. A lot of it was due to his ability to pace the offense and create shots for others. His biggest contribution to his team is his ability to distribute the ball and hit shots from outside.

Leading off the Bench | HumbleBola

Contrast this to his performance against the Star Hotshots, where his offensive rating shrank to 90.1, a notable reason for this shrink is the absence of assists. In the NLEX game where he performed well, Cañada assisted on 59.2% of Blackwater’s possessions. Looking to make the pass instead of scoring meant his teammates were benefiting from his playmaking, most especially Marcus Cousin who had a field day against the likes of Asi Taulava, dropping 73.1% of all his shots from the floor.

Leading off the Bench | HumbleBola

Against Star, Cañada not only started the game, but managed only a single assist, which saw his contribution to the team plummet. He was never really known to be a scorer. Even as a Falcon, Alvarez was the gunner of the duo while he was the poise. So his five point total that game wasn’t surprising.

He helps his team by being the catalyst that gets everyone else going. When his numbers are up, so does everyone else’s. In the NLEX game, the team assist ratio jumped to 85.7% which again dropped to 38.2% when he couldn’t produce against Star. Yes, there are a ton of things the Elite needs to work on. It’s a long arduous road before they can start taking down the Ginebras and Alaskas of the league without it being called an upset, but Cañada’s presence on their team is a good place for them to start.

Yes, Cañada struggled to make it into the PBA, but he has proven he belongs in professional leagues. He has shown he can carry a team to a championship by playing a support role. Blackwater can’t look for him to be the explosive scorer, they have four others on the floor to be that. They can make use of the fact that he doesn’t use up many possessions to impact his team. He’s young, energetic and smart. He’s a leader. He’s Captain Canada.