With a loss threatening to place them in the pit of the standings, the Blackwater Elites improve their chances of making the post-elimination phase, as they posted a huge 116-92 victory over the Barako Bull Energy Cola behind Carlo Lastimosa’s 38-point explosion held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday.
The initial minutes of the game featured an exchange of baskets from both teams as the game was tied at 10 with 7:30 to go in the first. However, an aggressive Blackwater squad finished the period on a 14-2 run as Energy committed five turnovers during that stretch. Balanced scoring was also key to the Elites run that was capped by a three by Almond Vosotros and a bucket by Art Dela Cruz.
Playing with a sense of urgency to save their season, Blackwater did a stellar job in maintaining the lead for the next two quarters, avoiding meltdowns similar in some of their prior outings. A 7-0 run in the middle of the quarter by Energy was responded well with triples by Riego Gamalinda and Cortez. At the half, the Elites had a 19-point cushion and their defense limited Barako to an inefficient 37-point production after two quarters.
Carlo Lastimosa was instrumental offensively for the Elites as he tallied eight points in the first four minutes to keep Barako Bull at bay. Despite the Energy Cola slowly making their perimeter attempts, they had difficulty making successive baskets which helped the Elites erect a 20-point separation with 3:40 left in the third. Barako sliced five points before entering the payoff period, but the pace still favored the Elites at that point.
Josh Urbiztondo caught fire in the final period with 14 points to lead Barako’s last comeback attempt. The Energy Cola sliced the lead down to ten twice in the middle of the period. However, the final stretch of the game was a showcase of Carlo Lastimosa’s impressive shooting display as he scored 17 points in the last five minutes of the match. In a blink of an eye, the Elites were suddenly up by 27 and continued to run away against the Elites. Lastimosa made 4/5 from downtown in the stretch.
Lastimosa’s 38 sets his new career high as the former CSB Blazer shot a whopping 14/20 from the field in 30 minutes of play. Art Dela Cruz added 21 off the bench, with six rebounds and two dimes. Their team outrebounded Energy Cola, 51-40, and shot 54% from the floor for the entire game. For Barako, Willy Wilson led the losing team with 23 markers, seven rebounds and two steals.
Blackwater improved to a 2-7 record, as this win also snapped their five-game skid. On the other hand, Barako drops to below .500, and now stands at 4-5. They will both have the Star Hotshots(3-6) as their next opponent in the late stretch of the elims, on Dec. 18 and on Dec. 13 respectively. Both games will still be held at the Big Dome.
To reiterate, the top two teams of the standings will gain an automatic semis seat. Teams seeded from third to tenth spot will advance to the quarterfinal phase, with the top half of it equipped with a twice-to-beat incentive. The bottom two teams will be eliminated. The Elites’ 2-7 record ties Mahindra’s at the tenth spot, while Barako’s loss ties them with NLEX, both of which are one game behind the sixth seeded Brgy. Ginebra Kings.
Blackwater (116) – Lastimosa 38, Dela Cruz 21, Gamalinda 15, Cortez 9, Golla 9, Erram 6, Reyes 5, Cervantes 4, Sena 4, Vosotros 3, Canada 2, Agovida 0, Ballesteros 0.
Barako Bull (92) – Wilson 23, Urbiztondo 17, Fortuna 13, Pennisi 10, Lanete 6, Brondial 5, Forrester 4, Intal 4, Monfort 4, Miranda 2, Baracael 2, Caperal 2, Sorongon 0.
Quarterscores: 26-12, 56-37, 81-66, 116-92.