In dire need of help, Blustar Detergent got a shot in the arm with the addition of big man Tristan Perez and forward Jason Melano to the squad as it tries to breathe life into its campaign in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.
And in their first game with the Dragons, the Filipino reinforcements, who were loaned by Blackwater, immediately made their impact.
Perez topped Blustar with 29 points, while Melano got 15 markers and five boards on Thursday.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, the contributions of their new acquisitions were still not enough to stop the Malaysian side from falling to their fourth straight defeat after suffering a 109-79 rout at the hands of Cignal-San Beda.
Blustar, however, is far from disheartened despite the string of losses.
The Dragons have put a premium on the development of their players, something that the Filipino ballers are willing to help in. And though the Perez and Melano are still adjusting to their new team, they have gone out of their way to really help their teammates improve.
“We’re still adjusting and I have yet to blend with my teammates,” the 6-foot-3 Melano said in Filipino. “But with enough time to jell, I think the team can compete because we’ll know each other better.”
So far, the biggest challenge for the two is the language barrier.
“Communication is really hard for us and it leads to misunderstanding at times,” said Perez, an NU standout who was picked first in the third round this 2016 PBA Draft. “There’s a number of players here who can speak English so it’s their job to translate some of the things we’re trying to do to the others.”
Luckily for Perez and Melano, big man Anthony Liew is proficient with the English language as he serves as the bridge for the Filipinos to their fellow Dragons.
Perez and Melano have also done their part, finding ways to communicate with their teammates through action in the team’s practices.
“We’re adjusting. I can see that in our practices, we’re doing good and the team is improving,” said Melano. “We can see that with us sharing our experiences to them, they’re slowly adapting, too, as they are going hard in our practices.”
Though those improvements have yet to translate into victories, all they want is for Blustar to maintain its positive attitude, looking at the bigger picture rather than dwelling on the defeats.
“We have to lessen our turnovers and do less of our mistakes,” said Perez.
“We have to play better defense because it’s our weak point. When teams get ahead of us, we easily lose hope,” Melano said.
Blustar’s campaign also gives the young guns a chance to show their worth to Blackwater.
Though Melano felt that the move was, in a way, a demotion for him from the Elite, he’s taking the task to heart as he seeks to hone his talents better in the D-League.
“I’ll do my best here so I can improve my skills,” said Melano. “Maybe the management saw that I still had to improve on a lot. I will do that so once that I return to the PBA, I won’t have a hard time adjusting.”
Perez, meanwhile, sees the move differently.
“My focus is here. I want to help the team win. I’m not yet looking at my return to Blackwater. I want to do my job here first,” he said.
Blustar returns to action on Tuesday against Jeron Teng-less AMA Online Education at JCSGO Gym in Cubao.
“We hope against AMA, we’ll finally get the win,” said Perez.