IN WHAT could be the most exciting game of the season and the conference thus far, Blackwater was finally able to break its rocky start in gut-wrenching fashion.
Carlo Lastimosa sank a tough looping floater in traffic with a second remaining to lift the Elite to a thrilling 92-90 squeaker of a victory over Meralco for the team’s first win in the 2015 Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup last night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
With the game tied at 90-all after a Cliff Hodge triple for the Bolts from the left elbow with six seconds left, the Elite, with the ball in hand, went to Lastimosa.
The gutsy guard drove hard down the lane and launched the high-arcing game-winning floater against several Meralco defenders, banking it home to give his team a 92-90 edge with a second left.
Having no timeouts left, the Bolts were forced to attempt from a distance and Ronjay Buenafe’s desperation triple at the buzzer went short, allowing the Elite, who squandered an 18-point lead early in the second half before recovering in the crucial stretch, to end its two-game slide and improve to 1-2, winning its first All-Filipino conference win in franchise history.
‘’Ang sarap,’’ said a jubilant Blackwater coach Leo Isaac. ‘’This is not only our first win this season, but also our first in the All-Filipino since zero wins kami last year. Finally, we got a win and we hope that things can now go in our favor.’’
After two games, the Bolts have yet to win a game as they fell to 0-2 at the bottom.
Mike Cortez had a steady game for Blackwater, leading the team’s offense with a well-rounded showing of 12 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Reil Cervantes’ go-ahead triple with 1:25 left gave the Elite an 89-87 lead and Lastimosa split his charities with 14 seconds remaining to make 90-87 before Hodge tied it up at 90.
Blackwater had complete control from the start up until the early part of the third quarter, where it even went ahead by 18 points on several occasions.
However, the Bolts just wouldn’t go away that easily, surging with a 27-10 run bridging the last two quarters to inch to within one, 73-72, with 8:45 left after Jimmy Alapag’s triple.
Meralco even led, 87-84, with 2:40 left after Gary David’s basket, but Blackwater showed maturity down the stretch and ended the game with an 8-3 closing salvo.
JP Erram scored 14 points, most of which came in the opening half where he set the tone for Blackwater early, to go with his five rebounds before fouling out early in the fourth period, while Cervantes, Bam Gamalinda and James Sena each added 12 points as well for the Elite’s cause. Lastimosa was the sixth Elite in twin-digits, finishing with 11.
BLACKWATER 92 – Erram 14, Cervantes 12, Cortez 12, Gamalinda 12, Sena 12, Lastimosa 11, Agovida 9, Canada 3, Reyes 3, Ballesteros 2, Dela Cruz 2, Vosotros 0.
MERALCO 90 – David 23, Dillinger 15, Hodge 13, Al-Hussaini 10, Alapag 7, Guevarra 7, Newsome 7, Hugnatan 4, Buenafe 2, Caram 2, Amer 0, Faundo 0, Nabong 0.
Quarters: 26-16, 48-33, 69-63, 92-90
(Al Wasl Sports Club – Dubai, UAE)
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