The Blackwater Elite chose the perfect opponent to get their first victory of the 2019 Philippine Cup as they took down the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 111-99, Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay to show that even though they lost their first two games, they will not be pushed around.
The Elite were coming off an 11-day break as their last game happened back on January 19, which was a loss to the Meralco Bolts. While they did a lot of time practicing, they also spent time bonding with their teammates. According to Mike DiGregorio, one of the Best Players of the Game, that was the main reason why they picked up the victory.
"We just bonded. We got to know each other and we developed chemistry," the said the sweet-shooting guard who finished with a game-high 27 points on an impressive 7 of 10 shooting from three-point range.
"I'm thankful to my teammates because they trust me as a leader. Our coaches have sacrificed a lot to help us improve and thankfully it resulted to a win," said the other Best Player of the Game in Allein Maliksi who had 23 points alongside seven rebounds and four assists.
After falling behind at the half, a different Blackwater team showed up in the second half as they exploded for 37 points in the third and 28 points in the fourth to shock the erstwhile undefeated Elasto Painters.
The bench also showed up for the Elite led by Chris Javier who had 16 points while Abu Tratter added 12. They actually beat Rain or Shine in bench points 51 to 47, a category usually dominated by the Elasto Painters.
Blackwater showed tenacity on the defensive end by getting 12 steals and five blocks and limiting their Elasto Painters to only 38% from the field.
James Yap had 20 points to lead Rain or Shine but he only scored five markers in the second half amidst Blackwater's run. Maverick Ahanmisi chipped in 18 points while youngsters Rey Nambatac and Javee Mocon combined for 28 points.
The Elite quickly built a double-digit lead in the first quarter because of the shooting of DiGregorio and the effort of Maliksi. DiGregorio made three triples early while Maliksi scored seven first-quarter points, most of which came via put-backs for an 18-7 lead. However, as the bench of Rain or Shine checked in, they started eating up into the lead of Blackwater.
Nambatac quickly scored eight points after subbing in midway through the first and the Elasto Painters were only down by a single point, 27-26, after the first 12 minutes.
The second period featured a battle between two products of the University of the East with Yap leading the charge for Rain or Shine and Javier carrying the scoring for Blackwater. Both scored nine points in the period but Yap got more help from his teammates as the Elasto Painters led 53-46 at the half.
Like what happened in the first quarter, Maliksi and DiGregorio powered Blackwater's offense in the third as they went on a 23-6 start turn their seven-point deficit to a 10-point lead, 69-59. The Elite went off for 37 points in the third period to take an 83-79 lead.
Blackwater 111 - Digregorio 27, Maliksi 23, Javier 16, Tratter 12, Belo 9, Desiderio 6, Sena 6, Sumang 4, Cortez 4, Palma 4, Alolino 0, Jose 0.
Rain or Shine 99 - Yap 20, Ahanmisi 18, Nambatac 15, Mocon 13, Daquioag 7, Ponferada 7, Torres 7, Belga 4, Maiquez 3, Borboran 3, Almazan 2, Norwood 0.
Quarters: 27-26, 46-53, 87-79, 111-99.
In their first two games, the second quarter was a big problem for Blackwater as they allowed 32.5 points while only scoring 17. They were in danger of repeating this as ROS led by as many as 11 points in the second but the Elite recovered to settle for an eight-point deficit in the period.
Raymond Almazan finally played his first game for the 2019 Philippine Cup after a prolonged absence. He did not finish the 2018 Governors' Cup due to personal reasons while an ankle sprain knocked him out in their first two games.
Blackwater vs Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters on February 1 at the Ynares Center, Antipolo
Rain or Shine vs San Miguel Beermen on February 1 at the Ynares Center, Antipolo