BLACKWATER caught a big fish just when it needed it the most.
The Elite fought valiantly to stun league-leader San Miguel Beer, 106-96, in an impressive display to snap out of its slump in the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City last night.
Poy Erram continued to make a splash, having his best game yet with career-highs of 24 points and 18 rebounds for a monster double-double as he surprisingly outplayed four-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo to lead the Elite.
He got help from Mike DiGregorio, who had a remarkable game as well with a game-high 26 points and five assists.
The hard-fought victory placed Blackwater back in the hunt with its improved 3-5 card. The Elite also snapped out of its four-game slide.
On the other hand, the Beermen stayed at the top, but they now share leadership with Magnolia on similar 6-2 cards. A win would’ve earned them the first berth in the quarterfinals.
Desperately needing a victory to keep a fair chance of making the next round, Blackwater played with a sense of urgency as it was able to stand toe-to-toe with the defending champions.
After keeping it close, the Elite executed a 13-2 spurt midway the third frame to turn a four-point deficit into a 60-53 lead, capped by a DiGregorio basket.
Showing poise despite attempted threats by the Beermen, the Elite impressively stood their ground in the clutch to complete its shocking upset win.
When San Miguel Beer came to within two, 80-82, with eight minutes remaining after Matt Ganuela-Rosser’s basket, Blackwater countered with a swift 7-0 run to restore its lead back to nine, 89-80.
More than a minute later, the Elite had their first double-digit lead, 96-85, with 4:02 left.
That finishing touch sealed the victory for the Elite.
Blackwater’s defense, anchored by Erram, astonishingly made life difficult for Fajardo, who produced 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Chris Ross led San Miguel Beer with 20 points.
—Digregorio 26, Erram 24, Maliksi 11, Sena 10, Palma 8, Jose 6, Marcelo 6, Pinto 5, Cortez 5, Cruz 5, Sumang 0, Neypes 0.
San Miguel 96
—Santos 22, Ross 20, Lassiter 13, Fajardo 12, Lanete 9, Rosser 8, Heruela 8, Semerad 2, Agovida 2, Pessumal 0, Mamaril 0, De Ocampo 0.
20-27, 43-45, 72-69, 106-96.