The Blackwater Elite took down another giant, beating the Barangay Ginebra Kings, 94-77, in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The new-look Elite were highly-confident heading into the match after scoring their first franchise win over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters but few would have guessed that they’d be the team to deal one of the title favorites in Ginebra their first loss of the season.
The Kings also did not help themselves with yet another slow start. They overcame their early deficit to beat GlobalPort Batang Pier in their last game but Blackwater retained its composure amidst the Kings’ attempts to turn the ball game around.
Limiting Ginebra’s bigs was the name of the game for the Elite as they knew they’d have a chance of scoring an upset if the production of their bigs was in the vicinity of Ginebra’s twin towers. In the end, it was JP Erram who stood tallest with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks, shooting an efficient 9-of-14 clip from the field.
“Sinundan lang namin yung tinuro ni coach,” Erram said after the game. “We stuck to the system. Unlimited effort yung binigay namin. Malaking bagay itong panalo namin sa kanila kasi tataas yung confidence ng lahat ng players, ng buong team.”
Leading by as much as 13 points in the third quarter, Blackwater saw their advantage dwindle to just a single point at the start of the fourth quarter. However, the Elite never panicked as they calmly weathered the storm and cruised to a victory.
“We’re very young. Mas bata kami so yung energy namin yung nagdala,” added Erram. “Aggressive kami pero we played smart, yun yung pinaka-importante kaya na retain namin yung lamang namin.”
The Elite led 41-33 at the half against the Kings as they played with more resolve.
Challenged by coach Leo Isaac to step up as they faced the Kings’ twin towers, Blackwater’s big men stepped up in the first half as Raymar Jose and Erram actually outscored Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar by two points in the first 24 minutes, 14-12. However, it was the scoring of Mac Belo that gave the Elite an edge as he scattered 11 markers is the fist half, continuing his stellar play after being the co-Best Player of the Game in their last win with Mike DiGregorio.
The Elite were still up by a dozen points, 63-51, with 2:33 left in the third quarter after an alley-oop play completed by Renz Palma. Knowing they cannot be down by double digits heading into the fourth, the Kings rallied as Slaughter and Scottie Thompson combined for 10 points to pull Ginebra closer, 64-61.
Little did the Kings expect that two former members of Ginebra would be the biggest thorns in their side in the fourth quarter. Allein Maliksi dropped eight points in the opening minutes of the period capped by a three-point conversion that extended Blackwater’s lead to 8, 74-66.
Mike Cortez then gave the Elite the veteran presence they needed to close the game out as he scored on a left-haded layup to stretch their lead, 89-77. The Cool Cat then grabbed the rebound on the other end and dished out an assist to Belo for a dagger three-point shot to seal the deal.
Belo had another huge game with 22 points and seven rebounds, looking like he finally regained his old deadly form. Maliksi provided the scoring punch off the bench for Blackwater with 17 markers while adding seven rebounds and four assists.
The usual suspects scored in double-digits for Ginebra led by Slaughter’s 20 points.
BLACKWATER 94 – Erram 22, Belo 22, Maliksi 17, Jose 8, Digregorio 8, Sena 7, Cortez 4, Palma 4, Marcelo 2, Pinto 0, Cruz 0, Sumang 0.
GINEBRA 77 – Slaughter 20, Tenorio 16, Aguilar 14, Thompson 12, Cruz 4, Taha 4, Caguioa 3, Ferrer 2, Mariano 2, Wilson 0, R. Aguilar 0.
Quarters: 19-19, 41-33, 64-61, 94-77.
Ginebra’s limited rotation finally caught up with them against Blackwater. Without Joe Devance and Sol Mercado, coach Tim Cone had to extend his rotation, a gamble he had to make. The Kings only got 13 points from their bench as Jervy Cruz failed to score in the game while Blackwater’s second unit provided 34 points for coach Isaac.
The Kings were also sloppy with their ball handling as they committed 21 turnovers leading to 29 points for the Elite.
Blackwater – January 17 vs TNT Katropa at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum
Ginebra – January 21 vs Alaska Aces at the Ynares Center, Antipolo