By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
BLACKWATER Elite improved to 2-0 in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup after topping the San Miguel Beermen, 103-100, on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Stayed resilient amid a steady rebuffing from San Miguel for much of the contest, Blackwater flipped things up late in the game and pulled off the victory.
The two teams had it competitive at the start, jockeying for early control before Blackwater made a late run in the opening quarter to create some distance.
Ahead by just two points, 17-15, at the 5:25 mark, the Elite went on a 10-1 run in the next three minutes to build a 27-16 advantage.
San Miguel though would regain some ground in the windup to narrow the gap, 29-25, by the end of the first 12 minutes.
Led by import Arizona Reid, the Beermen continued with their charge back in the second period.
They opened the first minute with a 5-0 blitz to take the lead, 30-29, extending it to four points, 39-35, midway into the frame.
Things went back and forth after, with the score eventually settling at 46-45, and San Miguel on top, at the break.
Blackwater tried to regain control to start the third period but San Miguel would not relent.
The Beermen held a 66-59 lead with 5:56 to go.
They would maintain a safe distance the rest of the way, taking an 82-74 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Elite kept the pressure on the Beermen in the final canto, taking the lead, 86-85, with four minutes lapsing on a Poy Erram deuce.
Both teams had each other in control after, with hardly one of them budging.
The count stood at 89-all with.6:16 left on the game.
The Elite though would get some leverage behind import Henry Walker and guard Michael DiGregorio, who helped their team get a 101-95 lead with 2:33 on the game clock.
San Miguel scrambled to get back and came within a point, 101-100, with 36 ticks to go after Marcio Lassiter drained a step-back triple.
Mr. Erram gave the Elite more breathing space, 103-100, after hitting two free throws off a foul from Christian Standhardinger with 19 seconds left.
The Beermen sued for time after to set up a play to level the score and send the game to overtime but three- point attempts by Mr. Reid and Arwind Santos failed to connect, preserving the win for the Elite.
Mr. Walker had an all-around game to lead Blackwater, finishing with 35 points, 17 rebounds, seven steals and five assists.
Mr. DiGregorio had 21 points while John Pinto finished with 15 points and seven assists.
Mr. Erram had 10 points and nine rebounds in his PBA return after his stint in the Asian Games.
San Miguel (1-1), meanwhile, was paced by Mr. Reid with 26 points and 12 boards.
Mr. Standhardinger had 20 points while Mr. Lassiter had 13.
Alex Cabagnot and Kelly Nabong each had 12 points.
“Happy that we got the win. The character of the team is showing and hopefully we get to sustain it. Basketball is a game of habits and we have to continuously develop that,” said Blackwater coach Bong Ramos in the postgame press conference.
After Wednesday’s double-header, the PBA is now on a two-week break to give way to the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Gilas Pilipinas plays in the second round of the qualifiers against Iran on Sept. 13 away and then hosts in a closed-door match Qatar on Sept. 17 at the Big Dome.
The closed-door home match was part of the sanctions meted by FIBA on the Philippines following the July 2 brawl between Gilas and Australia in the third window of the qualifiers.
For the fourth window, Gilas is to be coached by Yeng Guiao of the NLEX Road Warriors.
Regular PBA action resumes on Sept. 19.