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Blackwater eliminates Mahindra to complete top ten

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For the first time in franchise history, the Blackwater Elites will make their playoff appearance after surviving the Mahindra Enfrocers 108-99, in the first installment of the critical last game day of eliminations held at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Mike Cortez paced Blackwater’s start as the cool cat registered 11 points out of his team’s first 15. However, Mahindra led for the entire first quarter, which ended on a 29-26 tune with Michael Digregorio making his presence felt early.

An 18-4 surge by Blackwater turned things around by the 5:40 mark of the second quarter. Carlo Lastimosa capped the big run to give the Elites a 41-30 lead. Blackwater had their best defensive quarter, limiting the Enforcers to only 16 points, while leading by nine at the half.

Despite Mahindra managing to trade baskets in the early goings of the second half, Cortez drained in two big triples to restore Blackwater’s double-digit separation. Two turnovers in the late juncture of the third quarter by the Elites further helped Blackwater increase their lead, as they had a 19-point advantage after three quarters.

Threatening to put the game away, Blackwater led 86-66 with 10 minutes to go in the game. However, in the next eight minutes, Mahindra made the game interesting by slicing their deficit in half. LA Revilla took charge down the stretch but missed a top-of-the-key three-point attempt with 44 seconds to play. Meanwhile, Mike Cortez sealed the deal as he swished all of his six free throw shots in the fourth quarter.

Cortez finished with 30 points, 11/18 shooting from the field, 10 rebounds, and a perfect 6/6 from the line. After the game, he commended his teammates for the effort they put up all season and aims to be consistent moving forward. “I got to give it to my teammates since we worked so hard in practice this conference. We had games wherein we came up short, but we got it together and it paid out well for us.

As for Leo Isaac, the win served to be a monumental one after pointing out the disappointing season they had prior to this year. He says “Excited kami kasi makakarting kami ng quarterfinals. As an expansion team, we just continue to compete, try to improve, and hopefully get better results. Eto na, we’re in the quarterfinals after one forgetful season.”

Cervantes had 24 markers and three rebounds, while Gamalinda chipped in 16. For the eliminated Enforcers, their gallant stand came short behind Aldrech Ramos and LA Revilla scoring 22 and 15 points respectively and Digregorio’s conference-high of 20.

Blackwater ends their 11-game elimination phase with a 3-8 slate. They finished at the tenth spot and will face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters(8-3), who are armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs. On the other hand, Mahindra falls to a 2-9 record, while finishing their Philippine Cup campaign on a disappointing and crucial four-game skid.

The scores:
Blackwater (108) – Cortez 30, Cervantes 24, Gamalinda 16, Lastimosa 14, Erram 8, Dela Cruz 8, Ballesteros 4, Reyes 2, Canada 2, Golla 0
Mahindra (99) – Ramos 22, Digregorio 20, Revilla 15, Canaleta 12, Dehesa 12, Yee 7, Guinto 6, Webb 2, Pinto 2, Pascual 1, Laure 0, Hubalde 0, Paredes 0, Bagatsing 0
Quarterscores: 23-26, 51-42, 80-61, 108-99

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