MANILA, Philippines—Blackwater warded off Cagayan, 86-79, to send their semifinals series to a deciding game three Thursday in the PBA Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Coming out flat in their previous meeting leading to a 76-91 defeat last Tuesday, the Elite looked more like the team who finished in the top two of the eliminations.
“We had a day of making adjustments, it’s a good thing players responded really well. I challenged them to bounce back,” said Blackwater head coach Leo Isaac.
Blackwater, though, still had to grind it out down the stretch repeatedly fended off comebacks from Cagayan Valley.
Justine Chua scored 16 points to show the way for the Elite. Robby Celiz tallied 12 while holding James Forrester to seven points on 3 of 5 shooting.
“I thought today we played good defense. The last time out we allowed Cagayan to do their thing. Today, if they pressure us, we will pressure them,” said Isaac.
Llagas poured all but one of his nine points in the fourth quarter including a baseline runner which gave the Elite an 85-77 lead with under a minute to go.
Eliud Poligrates scored 23 points and Ping Eximiniano added 15 for the Rising Suns, who committed 23 turnovers that led to Elite’s 16 points.
Poligrated scored nine points in the third quarter and 14 in the first half but was held scoreless in the entire payoff period.