Blackwater Elite lost its grip in the dying minutes of the game as they gave up a 92-70 victory to Barako Bull Energy earlier at the Cuneta Astrodome. New kid on the block, Sol Mercado came up big with 20 points, three dishes, and three boards.
Three other Energy players finished in double digits: import Solomon Alabi had 21, Chico Lanete chipped in 19, and JC Intal contributed with 13. Bryan Faundo top scored for Blackwater with 16 markers.
The Elite couldn’t get going in the first period, thanks to import Chris Charles’ hamstring injury that ruled him out of the starting lineup. Blackwater couldn’t adjust and ended up trailing a feisty Barako Bull side by six, 17-23, in the opening quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Blackwater managed to turn the tables when an Alex Nuyles basket gave them a 28-27 advantage. Still leading 32-31, Blackwater gave up a 14-3 run as the Energy went into halftime with the lead, 43-35. Mercado, Intal, and Alabi combined for 29 markers in the first half. Alabi made his inside presence felt by the All-Filipino Blackwater squad, grabbing 16 boards and blocking three shots.
Barako Bull started the second half hot, firing seven unanswered points. Behind the trio of Faundo, Brian Heruela, and Jason Ballesteros, the Elite went on a 16-5 run to trim the Energy’s lead to four, 58-62, to end the third quarter.
Out-hustled in the third canto, the Energy stepped on the gas pedal once more to open the final quarter, outscoring the Elite 17-6 in the first five and a half minutes. That proved to be the turning point as the Elite couldn’t get back in the game and extended their losing streak to 12.
No match inside
Without Charles, Blackwater was bullied inside the paint. Barako Bull out-rebounded Blackwater, 56-45, with Alabi corralling a total of 22 boards. The Energy also scored at will in the shaded lane, converting 34 points compared to the Elite’s 18.
Barako Bull and Blackwater will have their next assignments on Sunday in Biñan, Laguna against Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text, respectively.
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