For the second straight Wednesday, an expansion team prevailed over Philippine Cup champions San Miguel Beermen. The Blackwater Elite bagged their first victory as a member of the PBA in remarkable fashion, outgunning the champions of a conference the league newcomers finished without a single victory, to take an 80-77 thriller win at the Araneta Coliseum.
The first quarter kicked off on a heated note, with both squads trading baskets in the opening minutes of the period. But around past the halfway point of the quarter, the Beermen got a much-needed boost from import Ronald Roberts, who started the flurry that gave San Miguel the means to pull away. The Beermen completed a 9-0 run in the remainder of the first quarter, holding Blackwater scoreless in the later portion of the period to exit with a 21-11 lead at the end of the first.
Spurred by the efforts of former Gilas standout Marcus Douthit, the Elite were able to recover in time to close in on the Beermen once more, 30-28, early in the second quarter. A trey by Alex Nuyles brought the Elite within single digits, 33-34, around eight minutes left on the clock, but baskets from Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot paved the way for San Miguel to extend the lead. With momentum back on their side, the Beermen only continued to outgun Blackwater for much of the remainder of the quarter. At the half, the Beermen held on to the steady lead, 44-38.
Blackwater entered the second half with a strong showing, going on a 7-3 run to close in on the Beermen, 45-47, two minutes into the third period. A four-point run care of Nuyles and Brian Faundo later brought them to within a single digit, 49-50. With five minutes left on the clock, a basket from Douthit gave the Elite their first taste of the lead since the early part of the first quarter, 51-50. They led by as many as eight, 58-50, in the next couple minutes of play. At the end of the third, it was the expansion team on top of the Philippine Cup champions, 60-52.
The Beermen, however, returned to the court looking to make up for their sloppy display in the previous quarter, completing a 7-0 rally to trim the lead to one, 59-60, early in the fourth quarter. It was reinforcement Roberts who gave San Miguel back the lead, 61-60, via a surprising spin move around four minutes into the period. Blackwater’s Faundo answered on the other end with a layup to give Blackwater the lead again, 62-61, and commencing another trade of baskets and leads.
A surprise three from Bam Bam Gamalinda gave the Elite a 75-72 lead with 2:41 left on the clock. Following a series of misses and errors by the Beermen, the score remained unchanged entering the last two minutes. A putback from his own miss by Douthit with a minute and a half left on the clock extended the lead to five, 77-72. With around a minute left in regulation, Cabagnot gave the Beermen a lease on life, sinking two charities to cut the lead to four, 74-78. Half a minute later, veteran gunner Ronald Tubid set the arena on fire with a step-back trey to come within one, 77-78, with just 36 seconds left to play.
With 10.6 ticks left on the clock, Gilbert Bulawan gave the Blackwater bench something to cheer for, sinking a putback from a missed Robby Celiz basket to give the Elite a three-point lead, 80-77. The last ten seconds saw the Beermen try to salvage the game with a couple of triples, but all attempts ended in futility. At the buzzer, it was the Elite celebrating on the court.
Douthit was given Player of the Game honors following a 20-point, 12-rebound, 4-block performance. Blackwater finished their maiden conference with a 0-11 record. They are now at 1-3 following today’s shocking victory. The Beermen meanwhile are at a dismal 0-3 slate.
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