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Walker helps Blackwater notch first win at expense of Phoenix

By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY--Henry Walker is not Blackwater's original choice as import for the PBA Governors Cup and he was not even the chief alternative when Trevis Simpson got injured.

After powering the Elite to a breakthrough 92-86 win over Phoenix Sunday, Coach Leo Isaac and management must be wondering why they didn't think of him first.

Walker did everything and more, scoring 32 points on top of 15 rebounds and five assists while inspiring his teammates no end, in leading Blackwater to its first win in four games in the season-ending tourney at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Despite the onset of cramps on his left leg barely into the final period, Walker still managed to 14 of his points and haul down four of his rerbounds, enabling Blackwater to keep its head above water in the stretch of the tightly-fought match.

"Special thanks to our new import, who gave the inspiration for everybody for us to come out winners of this game," said Isaac of the former NBA campaigner and NLEX's reinforcement for the same tourney last year.

"Going to the last nine minutes of the fourth quarter he was suffering from cramps so he was challenging the locals to take charge. Not being able to move properly, he was shouting at his teammates to 'take the shot' or 'play defense.'

That's a great sign of a proven winner, to challenge his teammates to be on top of the situation when he was not 100 percent."

Isaac also admitted they were looking at Zach Graham as replacement after Simpson got injured, but he was unavailable.

Good thing there was Walker, who also did his part on the other end by helping stifle Phoenix counterpart Eugene Phelps.

Going to the game averaging 31.3 points, Phelps was limited to just 13 points and his two missed drives in the endgame proved costly for the Fuel Masters, who dropped their third straight game and into a 2-3 slate overall.

"We were able to scout him (Phelps) during our previous games and in our tuneup game before this conference," explained . "So our big guys held their own against Phelps with good help defense from Henry Walker. He knows the guy.

"He (Walker) is full of passion, very emotional and hopefully he can be the import who could inspire us for this conference."

Mike Digregorio was foremost among the Blackwater locals who took the cue from Walker as he poured in a career-high 28 points anchored on 4-for-11 three-point shooting.

In all, Blackwater buried 13 triples, three more than its total in its first three games and also held Phoenix to a 32-for-71 field goal shooting that limited the latter to way below the Elite\'s 109.3 points given up per outing.

With Phelps limited to just 10 points in the first three quarters, the other Fuel Masters locals tried to pick up the slack with Mark Borboran booming in four triples for all of his 12 points in the fourth period, the last giving them their last taste of the lead at 80-78.

But Digregorio banked in an off-balanced shotclock-beater and JP Erram a 15-foot jumper before Walker, his left leg seemingly recovered, took over for good.

After RJ Jazul capped a 13-point game with a triple that brought Phoenix within one, Walker scored on a turnaround jumper and followed up his own miss to make it 88-84.

Phoenix's last gasp came when Phelps followed up a Jazul miss, but Walker and Digregorio canned two freebies each to seal the match.

Box Scores:

Blackwater 92-Walker 32, Digregorio 28, Gamalinda 9, Canaleta 5, Aguilar 5, Erram 4, Cruz 3, Miranda 3, Sumang 3, Belo 0, Banal 0, Cervantes 0, Sena 0, Pascual 0

Phoenix 86-Phelps 13, Jazul 13, Borboran 12, W. Wilson 11, Alolino 10, Baguio 8, Intal 8, Eriobu 7, Dehesa 2, Kramer 2, Lanete 0, J. Wilson 0

Quarterscores: 23-32, 51-47, 66-66, 92-86

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