Blackwater’s rebuilding process is off to a good start following its 96-89 victory over NorthPort in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup Monday night at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Pampanga.
The Elite erupted for 41 big points in the third quarter but had to buck a furious fightback by the Batang Pier from 17 down in the final frame to give Coach Nash Racela a successful return in the pro ranks.
“I did not really know what to expect doon sa game. I remember before we left the dugout, my message to the whole team, especially the coaches, was to help me. I told them parang medyo nakalimutan ko na kung paano mag-coach and the last time I did was two years ago, so of course, I would need all the help that I can get from everyone. Nagtulong-tulong naman kami,” said Racela.
Don Trollano notched a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds although he was not able to finish the game due to cramps. Roi Sumang was impactful with 17 as well on 6-of-10 shooting from the field.
The two contributed nine points each in that big third quarter explosion, which turned a 38-47 halftime deficit to a wide 14-point advantage heading into the game’s last 12 minutes.
Main man Mac Belo supplied 16 points on a 50-percent clip, highlighted by a three-pointer that gave the Elite their biggest lead of the match at 17, 82-65, to open the fourth quarter.
The Batang Pier, however, fought back and eventually closed the gap to within just four points, 93-89, following a three-pointer by guard Paolo Taha with only 1:01 remaining in the game.
NorthPort had a chance to close in further but Kevin Ferrer succumbed to Sumang’s pressure defense, which led to a turnover that Daquioag immediately converted into deuce with 29 ticks left to seal the deal.
Daquioag finished with 13 points and six boards in the victory that made Racela proud as he was impressed with the poise that his wards showed most especially during the endgame.
“It’s good that they showed poise because ako ‘yung nawalan ng poise nung endgame eh. Nagdadabog ako ng paa ko dahil sa mga lapses na mga nangyayari,” said the veteran mentor, who last coached in the PBA in 2018. “But it’s a good sign for me as a coach na our players are being responsible. If you look at our lineup, it’s a mixture of veterans and very young players.
“Even the veterans, aside from KG [Canaleta], that we look at are even young veterans – Belo, Sumang, [Frank] Golla and [Marion] Magat. It takes everybody contributing. That’s something that we need if we want to perform consistently.”
Christian Standhardinger had a game-high 23 points together with 10 rebounds to lead NorthPort. Anthony made 22 points, 13 boards, and six assists, while Garvo Lanete chimed in 14 markers on three triples.
Both teams will only have two days of rest as they will see action again on Thursday, Oct. 15. NorthPort raises the curtains of the double-header versus Phoenix at 4 p.m., while Blackwater battles Ginebra at 6:45 p.m.
Blackwater (95) — Sumang 17, Trollano 17, Belo 16, Daquioag 13, Tolomia 8, Magat 8, Desiderio 4, Canaleta 3, Salem 3, Dennison 3, Golla 2, Shaw 2, Dario 0, Escoto 0, Gabriel 0.
NorthPort (89) —Standhardinger 23, Anthony 22, Lanete 14, Elorde 7, Nabong 7, Taha 5, Manganti 3, Subido 3, Ferrer 3, Cruz 2, Grey 0, Revilla 0, Guinto 0.
Quarterscores: 21-25, 38-47, 79-65, 95-89.