The Blackwater Elite held on down the stretch to take a 100-96 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and force a do-or-die Game 3 in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elite came up with big plays in the crucial juncture to prevent another endgame collapse, similar to their 83-80 loss last Saturday.
"We learned a lot from Game 1," said Blackwater coach Aris Dimaunahan. "I told them that the real challenge in the playoffs is closing out quarters, closing out halves, closing out games. We learned big time in that game and we kinda made adjustments mentally, physically, and with our decision-making."
Mark Borboran trimmed down Rain or Shine's deficit to just two in the final minute with a floater and a pair of free throws. Greg Smith responded with a turnaround jumper with 44 seconds left to protect Blackwater's lead.
Borboran missed his next attempt after a timeout, which allowed Smith and Mac Belo to stretch the gap to seven points before Rey Nambatac knocked down a non-bearing 3 that settled the final score.
Smith unleashed a double-double of 31 points and 18 rebounds in the victory. Ray Parks added 28 points, while Belo and Mike DiGregorio combined for 27 points.
The Elite know that they will have an extremely tough time beating the Elasto Painters in their knockout match on Thursday.
"We haven't achieved anything," said Dimaunahan. "We still have to work doubly hard. I hope this win gets us into the right direction and the right frame of mind in playing our next game."
Javee Mocon paced Rain or Shine with 25 points and five rebounds. Carl Montgomery was limited to 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting though he also contributed 15 boards.
Blackwater 100 - Smith 31, Parks 28, Belo 14, Digregorio 13, Sena 4, Maliksi 3, Javier 3, Desiderio 2, Cortez 2, Sumang 0, Al-Hussaini 0.
Rain or Shine 96 - Mocon 25, Borboran 13, Belga 13, Alejandro 12, Montgomery 11, Rosales 10, Nambatac 9, Ponferada 2, Onwubere 1, Norwood 0.
Quarters: 24-15, 38-35, 68-64, 100-96
- Blackwater built a 14-point lead early in the game but it quickly turned into another close battle as Rain or Shine charged back in the second quarter behind Beau Belga.
- The Elite dominated the paint, scoring 44 points on a 71-percent clip in the shaded area.
- Javee Mocon scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter before Borboran took up the reins in the latter part, but their combined efforts were not enough to stop Blackwater.
Game 3 - July 25 (Thursday) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum