ANTIPOLO -- The Blackwater Elite survived a late Magnolia Hotshots rally to eke out a 95-89 victory in the PBA Governors' Cup on Wednesday at the Ynares Center.
The Hotshots were without Romeo Travis who was out with an ankle injury. Marqus Blakely, who returned to the lineup after being relegated to the injury list in place of Aaron Fuller, anchored the Elite with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and three assists to help his team improve to 2-3 in the standings. Mac Belo added 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting, while Mike diGregorio and Rabeh Al-Hussaini contributed 12 and 11, respectively.
The Elite had a busy fourth quarter trying to fend off Magnolia, which climbed back from 13 down to pull to within four multiple times. After a Belo basket slightly steadied the ship for Blackwater, 90-84, with 49 seconds left, Aldrech Ramos kept the door open for the Hotshots by getting the lucky bounce to go on a right-wing triple with 36 seconds to go.
Blakely was then able to retrieve the rock with seven seconds left after a Roi Sumang miss and hit two free throws to give his side a five-point lead, 92-87, for a comfortable cushion until the final buzzer.
"It helped that they didn't have an import tonight. We're really lucky becauuse we had one less threat to worry about on defense. But nevertheless, I give our guys the credit for staying with the game plan and playing very, very well tonight," coach Aris Dimaunahan said after the win.
Blackwater was able to hold Magnolia to 38.9 percent shooting in the first two quarters, where they erected a 40-27 lead after a hot start. Even if that number eventually rose as Magnolia regained its bearings behind Paul Lee, the Elite's fluid ball movement (23 assists) -- paired with their strong showing on the glass (44 against the Hotshots' 38) still became the decider at the end of it all.
"Last game we only had 16 assists," Dimaunahan noted. "We were able to get better there tonight. And I think for the first time this conference, we won the rebounding battle. It gave us the chance to have more possessions and I commend the guys for playing great defense tonight."
"I challenged them to play better defense coming into this game, and we challenged them to share the ball more than the last game. Great job by our guys tonight for playing for each other," added the coach.
Magnolia, which missed Travis' (ankle), fell to an even 3-3 despite strong performances from Lee (26 points on 8-for-15 shooting, eight assists) and Ian Sangalang (12 points, seven rebounds).
Blackwater (95) -- Blakely 21, Belo 20, Digregorio 15, Al-Hussaini 12, Cruz 6, Parks 5, Maliksi 5, Desiderio 4, Sena 3, Sumang 2, Jose 2, Cortez 0.
Magnolia (89) -- Lee 26, Sangalang 12, Dela Rosa 11, Ramos 10, Melton 9, Barroca 7, Jalalon 6, Pingris 4, Reavis 2, Herndon 2, Brondial 0.
Quarters: 19-15, 47-40, 71-66, 95-89.
Blakely is still the only import to lead the Magnolia franchise to at least two titles in franchise history, per PBA statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
After going 6-for-20 in his last game, Parks' shot attempts dropped to just four tonight in almost 40 minutes of play. He tallied five points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Blackwater vs. Meralco on Oct. 18 at the Ynares Center-Antipolo.
Magnolia vs. Ginebra on Oct. 20 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.