CLARK FREEPORT--Blackwater definitely carries the Far Eastern University tradition in the PBA bubble season.
New coach Nash Racela served as the mentor of the Tamaraws from 2012 to 2016, steering them to their 20th UAAP title in 2015.
Mac Belo, Mike Tolomia, Ron Dennison and rookie Richard Escoto were all part of that FEU champion squad under Racela.
Belo was drafted by Blackwater in 2016 while Tolomia and Dennison were acquired via trades with Meralco and Phoenix, respectively. Escoto was picked by the Elite in the second round of the 2019 PBA Draft.
For the 6-foot-4 forward Belo, it surely works as a big plus in terms of chemistry for the relatively young Elite team.
"Parang old days lang," Belo quipped. "Nagkataon lang siguro. Pero masaya ako na matagal kami nagsama-sama sa FEU so kumbaga mas kilala na namin yung isa't-isa."
"Hindi na mahirap pakisamahan and pagdating sa court alam na namin 'yung mga kaya namin gawin pagdating sa game."
Escoto, for his part, is happy to see familiar faces as he journeys in his first year in Asia's first play-for-pay league.
"Advantage din kasi nga kilala ko na sila. 'Di na ko yung nangangapa pa o naiilang sila sa'kin,"
Belo assured that there's no special treatment for the former Morayta cagers under Racela's watch.
"Kami pa nga unang napapagalitan," the 27-year-old cager said in jest.