Blackwater escapes late Alaska rally

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Blackwater almost blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead but still able to subdue Alaska, 103-100, in a PBA Philippine Cup affair at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.

Despite scorching hot late in the third quarter and the early goings of the fourth, the Elite still had to weather one last push by the Aces to bounce back from back-to-back defeats.

After trailing for most of the first three periods, Blackwater went on a 14-0 run to go up, 83-71, with 9:36 remaining in the fourth. The team would get its largest lead at 92-78 with 5:42 to go.

But Alaska began its comeback trail from there, scoring 11 unanswered points highlighted by eight straight from Jvee Casio to cut the lead to three, 92-89, with 2:43 remaining.

A back-breaking triple from Mac Belo plus an and-1 from Roi Sumang stretched the Elite's lead to seven, 98-91, with 1:21 to go.

But Casio converted a three-pointer while picking the ensuing inbound pass intended for Sumang to set up a Calvin Abueva layup that chipped the gap back to two, 98-96, with 1:11 left.

Sumang made up for not securing the possession in the previous play by making two free throws with 55.6 seconds left for a 100-96 Blackwater lead.

Abueva still put up a fight for Alaska by putting back a Kevin Racal miss that cut the lead back to two, 100-98, with 45.4 seconds left.

The team had a chance to tie the game after forcing Sumang to a tough runner that he missed, but Abueva overthrew a pass for Racal and Blackwater got the ball back with 20.7 seconds left.

The Aces, however, got another chance as Sumang only made a split from the free throw line with 12.2 seconds lead that slightly increased the lead to just three, 101-98.

They decided to go for a quick two in the next play, but they burned almost seven seconds on the clock before finally feeding Abueva for the open basket with 5.6 seconds left that cut the lead to one, 101-100.

Denok Miranda stretched the Elite's lead back to three with two free throws with four seconds left.

Abueva tried to force overtime, but his corner three rimmed out as time expired.

Sumang finished with 19 points, all in the last three quarters with 17 coming in the second half including 10 fourth quarter points, alongside one rebound, two assists, and three steals to backstop Mac Belo, who put up 21 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and one block, for Blackwater, which moved up to 5-4.

Casio and Abueva tallied 23 points each for Alaska, which dropped to 4-4. Abueva would put up a double-double as he also had 14 rebounds, while Casio had a solid all-around game with six rebounds, five assists, and two steals.

The scores:

Blackwater 103-Belo 21, Sumang 19, Buenafe 16, Dela Cruz 13, Aguilar 10, Sena 8, Cervantes 6, Miranda 4, Pinto 4, Ababou 2, Pascual 0, Gamalinda 0, Banal 0

Alaska 100-Abueva 23, Casio 23, Manuel 13, Racal 9, Mendoza 7, Hontiveros 6, Exciminiano 6, Jazul 4, Cruz 4, Thoss 2, Pascual 2, Dela Cruz 1

Quarterscores: 22-28, 45-49, 76-71, 103-100