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Blackwater sends winless NLEX to the brink


Luck continues to evade the NLEX Road Warriors in this seemingly-doomed 2017 Commissioner’s Cup campaign of theirs.

The Road Warriors still could not register a win, bowing to the Blackwater Elite, 104-98, after failing to complete their comeback attempt down the stretch on Wednesday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

“Going into this game, I told the players to just give ourselves a good chance of making it to the final round especially against NLEX and on Sunday against Mahindra,” said Elite head coach Leo Isaac on the win that brought them just a game behind eighth placed Phoenix.

“We’re just prepping ourselves to be in a position, to be in a situation where we can enjoy the games against SMB and Ginebra going to the final two games of our stint this conference.”

Three players scored above 20 markers in the win, which improves their card to 2-6. Greg Smith led the Elite with 24 points on 21 shots, alongside 18 rebounds, while KG Cañaleta also supplied 24 on five triples.

Sophomore guard Mike DiGregorio registered a career-high 22 points by going 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, with all of his triples coming from the third canto that enabled Blackwater to establish the game’s widest gap at 18, 86-68.

Down by ten, 102-92, after a Smith split from the line with 2:46 remaining in the final frame, a mini 6-0 run ended by Sean Anthony’s charities raised NLEX’s hopes up as they closed within four, 102-98, with 1:26 left to play.

Reil Cervantes’ missed free throws for the Elite with 1:02 to go opened the door for NLEX to close in further. However, misses by Wayne Chism and Jansen Rios from the three-point area with 30 seconds left sent their hopes in tatters.

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Shots from the stripe by diminutive guard Mark Cruz lifted Blackwater to another six-point lead, 104-98, with 11 ticks to go, and those were enough to seal the deal and send the Road Warriors packing with a dismal 0-8 record.

“We’re down by one, we still have a game on Sunday and we hope that we can make the preparation. We want to be in a good position by winning that game on Sunday against Mahindra,” Isaac hoped.

The Road Warriors were paced by Kevin Alas with 18 points on 63 percent shooting, but he committed six miscues. Al-Hussaini backed him up with 17 markers on 10 shots, while Carlo Lastimosa and Asi Taulava each supplied 10.

Chism, who has been leading NLEX in their last seven games, produced his lowest output yet with just nine markers on a dismal 4-of-20 shooting. He made up for it in the rebounding department, however, as he grabbed 15.

Blackwater shot 48 percent from the floor and capitalized on NLEX’s 16 turnovers by scoring 25 off it. However, NLEX won the boards, 58-48; scored off second chances better, 33-18; and had more bench support, 74-32.

Blackwater will try to book their third win this conference against Mahindra on Sunday, May 7, 4:30 PM still at the Big Dome. Meanwhile, NLEX will play San Miguel on May 19, Friday, 4:15 PM at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The Scores:

Blackwater (104) – Smith 24, Canaleta 24, Digregorio 22,Cruz 9, Pinto 7, Pascual 6, Cervantes 4, Aguilar 4, Sena 2, Gamalinda 2, Sumang 0, Buenafe 0.

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NLEX (98) – Alas 18, Al-Hussaini 17, Lastimosa 10, Taulava 10, Anthony 9, Chism 9, Khobuntin 8, Camson 5, Villanueva J. 4, Monfort 4, Soyud 3, Rios 1, Tiongson 0, Guinto 0, Baracael 0.

Quarterscores: 28-17, 49-42, 86-68, 104-98.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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