MANILA, Philippines -- Maurice Shaw had a quiet debut for the Blackwater Elite on Monday, as the rookie played just under 11 minutes in a 96-89 upset of the NorthPort Batang Pier at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Much was expected from the 6-foot-9 Shaw, whom the Elite selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the regular PBA Rookie Draft last December. It was admittedly a gamble from the team, as Shaw is quite old for a rookie at 35 years old.
Against NorthPort, he came off the bench to put up two points and two rebounds, only playing for short bursts before he was pulled back out by coach Nash Racela.
"To tell you honestly, si Maurice is not in very good condition," Racela explained. "Siya 'yung aming latest addition sa bubble, and he was very honest na wala pa siya sa kundisyon."
Racela was thus admittedly reluctant to give Shaw extended playing time, and compromised by putting him in the game for only short stretches.
"Talagang in and out, and we were very conscious in playing him mga 2-3 minutes lang every time papasok siya," he said.
Despite not being in tiptop shape and only playing for 10 minutes and 54 seconds, Shaw did enough to impress Racela. He made just one of three field goals and committed three turnovers, but Racela pointed out that he was part of the line-up that sparked the Elite's turnaround.
Blackwater had trailed early before Shaw's only field goal of the game sparked a 9-2 run that trimmed their deficit to two points, 18-16, in the first quarter. They went on to outscore NorthPort, 41-18, in the pivotal third frame to take control of the contest.
"We liked what we saw (from Shaw)," said Racela. "Actually, he was the one who triggered our comeback in the first half… The five guys (who) made the run, Maurice Shaw was part of that."
"That's a glimpse of what he can do for us when he's in tiptop condition," he added.
Racela expects that they will continue to manage Shaw's minutes, and even other players as they look to avoid injuries inside the PBA's bubble.
Blackwater will return to action on Thursday against Barangay Ginebra.