Mike DiGregorio’s third quarter explosion was all that the Blackwater Elite needed to zoom past the Kia Picanto and eliminate the cellar-dwelling team from playoff contention, 95-76, Friday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Filipino-Italian shooting guard scored 14 of his 21 points in the third chapter to help the Elite turn a slim 47-41 halftime lead to a huge 17-point wall, 75-58, to gain cruise control en route to their second straight victory.
Coming off a win over the San Miguel Beermen last week, Blackwater have improved to 4-5 and have tied Phoenix for the eighth spot of the standings. Kia, meanwhile, lost their fourth straight and dropped to 1-8.
“We would want to keep our hopes alive and that would only happpen if we will continue our winning ways,” said Blackwater head coach Leo Isaac. “With this convincing win against Kia, maybe we can go on and move up to the next level in terms of confidence, maturity.”
Poy Erram continues his stellar play for the Elite, finishing with 17 markers and 14 rebounds. Main gunner Allein Maliksi made his presence felt with 14 markers on 40 percent shooting, to go with six caroms and three assists.
Nard Pinto only finished with five points, but brought plenty of impact for Blackwater, as he had eight assists and seven rebounds. The returning Mac Belo produced six markers, three boards, and two steals in 15 minutes.
Seldom-used big man Chris Javier only had one field goal in the two minutes and 35 seconds he played, but his basket — a wide-open triple — lifted Blackwater to their biggest lead of the night at 26, 94-67, 2:03 left to play.
Reden Celda carried the offensive load of the Picanto with 21 points spiked by four triples. Forward Jackson Corpuz and Carlo Lastimosa were his only back-up as they scored nine and eight markers, respectively.
Blackwater will next face the NLEX Road Warriors this Sunday, February 18, 4:30 PM at Philippine Arena in Bulacan, while Kia will aim to end their slump versus the GlobalPort Batang Pier on February 21, Wednesday, 4:30 PM still at the Big Dome.
Blackwater 95 — DiGregorio 21, Erram 17, Maliksi 14, Sena 9, Belo 8, Marcelo 8, Cruz 5, Pinto 5, Jose 4, Javier 3, Banal 1, Cortez 0, Neypes 0, Palma 0.
KIA 76 — Tubid 22, Celda 21, Corpuz 9, Lastimosa 8, McCarthy 6, Reyes 5, Camson 3, Khobuntin 2, Escoto 0, Galanza 0, Sara 0, Yee 0.
Quarterscores: 25-21, 47-41, 77-65, 95-76.