Losing an 11-point lead in the third quarter, the Blackwater Elite hung on against the Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel to notch their first win in four games, 83-77 held at the Dipolog City Sports Complex in Zamboanga del Norte on Saturday.
Blackwater struggled finding their mark from the charity stripe in the first and second quarters as they had shot 3/8 during a stretch while Jayjay Helterbrand drained a pull up jumper to make it 28-23 in favor of the Kings. Offense came slow for both squads as wide open perimeter jumpers did not find the bottom of the rim, even for the shooters. Sol Mercado made an and-one play and Johnson punished the rim with a jam to hold on to their 35-31 advantage. Blackwater ended the second period on a strong note by going on a 6-1 run, capped by a Bambam Gamalinda basket that gave them a solitary point lead heading into the break.
Just like the start to the second period, LA Tenorio swished in a triple to open the second half for the Kings and regain the lead for his squad. Bambam Gamalinda and Reil Cervantes were quick to respond for his team as he started piling up the points for the Elites. The duo combined for the team’s next 12 points to make it a 51-44 game. Blackwater extended its furious third quarter run by playing suffocating defense against Orlando Johnson who struggled finding his mark all game long. An Eddie Laure jumper made it a 55-44 game but Ginebra found a way to answer late in the period.
Being hounded, Johnson found his teammates on the break as Sol Mercado and Josh Urbiztondo rushed to consecutive transition points and make it a four point lead. The Kings went on their own run with Tenorio drilling another contested triple while Johnson banked a mid-ranged jumper to give them the 60-57 advantage. Blackwater responded in the dying seconds as they scored five points to give them the two point lead after three quarters.
Reil Cervantes gathered confidence as he knocked down two triples to start the last quarter for the Elites. On the other end, Ginebra scored on two putbacks by Rodney Brondial and Dave Marcelo to slice the lead at 68-67. The next minutes displayed a thrilling exchange of baskets for both teams as no squad led by more than three up to the last two minutes of the game.
Tied at 77 with under a minute to play, good help defense by Marcus Douthit rejected a layup attempt by Johnson. While Ginebra had another chance to take back the lead, Dorian Pena muffed two free throws but Rodney Brondial secured a huge offensive rebound off the miss. However, the former Adamson Falcon rushed his putback attempt and Douthit grabbed the rebound and eventually made two free throws on their end. After the Kings called for a timeout, Sol Mercado made a poor pass that was intercepted by Bryan Heruela as the latter made a free throw to make it a two-possession lead en route to converting it to the win.
The loss gave Ginebra a 1-3 slate while Blackwater’s first win gave them the same win-loss record.
Quarterscores: 16-21, 37-36, 62-60, 83-77
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