Losing their last three games, the Blackwater Elite ended their woes with a win over the Kia Carnival, 115-104 to notch their second victory of the conference, earlier at the Filoil Arena in San Juan.
The PBA championship-seeking player-coach, Manny Pacquiao, suited up as the coach for Kia as he was cautious in preparation for his awaited fight against Floyd Mayweather.
Pacquiao’s troop started with a seven point lead as PJ Ramos and LA Revilla made early inside baskets off of quick possessions, while also making stops on the other end to open up the match. Blackwater had a hard time making their baskets inside the paint due to the clogging defense of Kia at the early stages of the quarter with the help of their mammoth reinforcement Ramos.
As shots started to miss for Kia, the Elites settled for perimeter jumpers. Providing instant offense off the bench was Sunday Salvacion, who hit on a tough fadeaway jumper. Ballesteros and Douthit added two more jumpers to come within one. After a stop on the other end, Salvacion drove along the baseline and hit on a contested floater plus a foul to cap a 9-0 run, while also giving the Elites their first lead of the game.
Off a timeout by Carnival, Ramos scored on a quick basket inside, but the long-ranged shots continued to find the bottom of the rim. Despite successive possessions of good ball movement for Kia that ended up in the hands of a wide-open shooter, the three point shots did not find the mark for three consecutive attempts. This enabled Blackwater to widen the gap with a 7-2 finish in the period, cemented by an Eddie Laure triple, which bounced in the rim as the first quarter buzzer sounded.
A flurry of misses for Carnival slowed down their scoring in the second period. With JP Erram, Salvacion, and Douthit making their free throws early on, the Elites cruised to a double-digit lead, while making stops on the other end. Reil Cervantes missed two freebies for Kia that did not stop the scoring drought of the Carnival. As Ramos re-entered the game with about eight minutes to play left in the first half, Kia scored their first points of the period with his free throws.
However, Douthit anchored and dominated the offense for Blackwater, scoring five quick points to counter Kia’s behemoth. Douthit also had blocks, which intimidated the locals from Kia to make their penetration attempts. Elites led by as high as 16 during the second canto with their defense standing tall against Kia.
The stops made by Ramos with his blocks against Blackwater were not capitalized by Kia, unfortunately, as their quick offense made them launch long-heaved attempts that missed. Kia sliced the lead down to ten with seconds remaining in the first half, but Douthit and Heruela scored to silence the rally just before the quarter ended.
Back-to-back triples from Cervantes during the 12-2 stretch helped Kia trim the deficit to as little as six. The locals for the Elites were unable to make their shots in the opening minutes of the second half that did not help Blackwater during the rampage from Carnival. With Douthit doubled in the post, he found Salvacion for two straight treys that helped Blackwater re-establish another wide gap against Kia.
With enough stops, the Elites hung on with their double-digit cushion against the struggling Carnival, who committed multiple turnovers. Kia had several isolation plays that did not work, while the 50-50 balls went the way of the Elites. Raffy Reyes found a loose ball, and scored on a gimme to reinstall an 18-point lead for Blackwater at 81-63. They eventually entered the last frame up by fourteen.
Kia’s defense helped slice the lead to single digits in the opening minutes of the fourth. After the locals delivered for their respective squads, the import showdown finished off the game. Ramos made two straight baskets inside to make it a six-point game. Douthit, on the other hand, countered with a huge triple to extinguish the rally, knowing the defense would clamp on him inside.
Battling fatigue, Kia’s comeback came up short, with the Elites playing magnificent defense. Although their lead evaporated into single digits, Laure delivered on two jumpers to seal the deal for Blackwater.
Byran Heruela delivered his career-high in scoring, finishing with 27 big points on 64% shooting, while also dishing out seven assists. Douthit and Salvacion also had a good outing with 24 and 22 markers respectively.
Ramos had 49 points for Kia, on 19/35 shooting, while grabbing 14 boards and three assists. Leo Avenido topped the locals for the Carnival with 10.
As the escape in the bottom four of the standings tighten up, Kia looks to bounce back on Tuesday against Alaska, while Blackwater will next face Ginebra after the all star break on Mar. 11.
Blackwater (115) – Heruela 27, Douthit 24, Salvacion 22, Gamalinda 10, Laure 7, Reyes 6, Erram 6, Bulawan 6, Ballesteros 4, Faundo 2, Celiz 1.
KIA (104)- Ramos 49, Avenido 10, Cervantes 9, Bagatsing 9, Thiele 8, Revilla 8, Buensuceso 3, Cawaling 2, Dehesa 2, Pascual 2, Yee 2, Poligrates 0, Alvarez 0.
Quarterscores: 29-21, 56-42, 83-69, 115-104