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Vets lift Blackwater over Meralco in Dela Cruz's debut

Arth Dela Cruz struggled in his PBA debut. PBA
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--The rookie that many said will change Blackwater's fortune finally arrived on Wednesday night.

But it was the veterans, especially Carlo Lastimosa, that towed the Elite to their first win of the young PBA 2016 season.

Lastimosa scored the game-winner with 1.8 seconds remaining even as he and five others finished in double figures as Blackwater stunned Meralco, 92-90, in their Philippine Cup game at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The nephew of PBA legend Jojo penetrated to the paint before uncorking a teardrop that went off the glass and in to stop the Bolts from completing a comeback.

Meralco trailed by as much as 18 points, the last at 43-61 early in the third quarter, but the team outscored Blackwater, 44-23, in a 17-minute span in the second half to take an 87-84 lead with 2:41 left in the match.

Lastimosa scored on a jumper, and Reil Cervantes added a triple to put the Elite back up, 89-87, with 1:27 to go.

The Bolts failed to convert in their next three plays but still had a chance as Lastimosa only made a split from the line with 14 seconds remaining.

Cliff Hodge tied the game with a triple with seven ticks on the clock, but following a timeout, Lastimosa drove to the basket for the go-ahead shot.

Meralco had one last shot of stealing the victory, but with no ceasefire to utilize, Ronjay Buenafe resorted to a Hail Mary attempt that was way off.

Poy Erram led six Blackwater veterans in scoring with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting along with five rebounds and three blocks, while Cervantes and Lastimosa, who combined for the team's last eight points of the game, added 12 and 11 respectively.

Six days cut off from his NCAA Finals stint at the same venue, Arth Dela Cruz had a quiet two markers in his much-anticipated PBA debut for Blackwater.

Gary David scorched for a game-high 23 points in a losing effort for Meralco.

Dela Cruz's fellow ex-San Beda Red Lion, Baser Amer, was scoreless in his own first taste of PBA action.

Box Scores:

Blackwater 92-Erram 14, Cervantes 12, Cortez 12, Gamalinda 12, Sena 12, Lastimosa 11, Agovida 9, Canada 3, Reyes 3, Ballesteros 2, Dela Cruz 2, Vosotros 0

Meralco 90-David 23, Dillinger 15, Hodge 13, Al-hussaini 10, Alapag 7, Guevarra 7, Newsome 7, Hugnatan 4, Buenafe 2, Caram 2, Amer 0, Faundo 0, Nabong 0

Quarterscores: 26-16, 48-33, 69-63, 92-90