MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Blackwater Elite returned to the win column of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup in impressive fashion, as they held off the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-92, on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Blackwater suffered its first defeat of the conference on Friday, bowing to Phoenix, 103-98, but leaned on a balanced effort to get back on the right track just a couple of nights later.
The Elite outplayed the Elasto Painters for most of the game, used a big run in the third quarter to build a comfortable lead, then made the key plays down the stretch to deny Rain or Shine's last-ditch rally.
"The challenge really today was how well do we focus, and how well we can bounce back from a loss," said Blackwater coach Aris Dimaunahan. "That's the challenge for our guys since yesterday."
"Tonight, they played really, really well as a team. The thing na gusto naming mangyari, nangyari," he added. "They played great defense tonight… We want to share that ball, and we had 20 assists."
The Elite improved to 4-1 with the result.
Roi Sumang set the tone for Blackwater, scoring all of his 11 points in the first half as the Elite built a 50-40 advantage. A strong start to the third quarter kept Rain or Shine in the hunt, and two free throws by Norbert Torres made it a one-possession game, 57-59, with still 4:22 to go in the frame.
But Blackwater responded with a 17-3 run to end the period, as Dimaunahan got contributions from virtually everyone he sent in. A three-point play by Alex Stepheson got them rolling, and Mac Belo highlighted the run with a two-handed slam dunk. Allein Maliksi's triple with 21.3 ticks left in the quarter gave them their biggest lead, 76-58.
The Elite made enough plays in the fourth quarter to keep Rain or Shine at bay, although the Elasto Painters came within seven points, 88-81, with 1:51 left, thanks to back-to-back buckets by Denzel Bowles and Gabe Norwood.
They last threatened at 94-90 with 22 seconds to go off a pair of free throws by Bowles, but Mike DiGregorio was steady at the line in the closing seconds to ice the win for Blackwater.
Maliksi earned Player of the Game honors after scoring a team-high 19 points, while Ray Parks had 16 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Stepheson had 13 points, going only 3-of-11 from the line, but grabbed 20 rebounds.
DiGregorio (16) and Sumang (11) also reached double-digits for Blackwater, which shot 42.1% from the field.
Bowles had 27 points to lead Rain or Shine, which dropped to 0-2 in the conference.
Blackwater 98 - Maliksi 19, Digregorio 16, Parks 16, Stepheson 13, Sumang 11, Belo 7, Tratter 4, Al-Hussaini 3, Banal 3, Sena 2, Alolino 2, Desiderio 2, Cortez 0.
Rain or Shine 92 -owles 27, Yap 15, Borboran 10, Daquioag 10, Rosales 8, Norwood 7, Belga 5, Mocon 4, Nambatac 1, Ponferada 0,
Quarters: 241-17, 50-40, 76-60, 98-92
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