PBA D-League: Cervantes stars as Blackwater holds off Cebuana
MANILA, Philippines — Reil Cervantes carried Blackwater Sports out of harm’s way down the stretch as the Elite weathered a late fourth quarter storm by Cebuana Lhuillier, 85-78, in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Monday at the Meralco Gym.
A man on a mission, Cervantes took matters into his own hands — providing five clutch points — inside the final 1:39 of the game.
Cervantes, who had a short stint in the PBA, buried a dagger of a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Gems forward Gab Banal on an isolation play that made it, 83-78, with 41.8 seconds left.
“He (Cervantes) wants to prove something,” said Blackwater head coach Leo Isaac. “He wants to get another crack in the PBA and he’s working his butt off in practice.”
Cervantes certainly showed he deserves another shot I the pros with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
The defending champion Elite, who kept their hopes of an outright semifinals berth alive, took a 17-point lead, 66-49, on a conventional three-point play by Gilbert Bulawan late in the third period.
But the Gems came out with guns ablaze in the final frame and were just behind by two, 76-78, with 1:58 left after a steal and layup by Banal.
“We had series of lapses on offense and defense. Offensively, we weren’t making good decisions,” Isaac said.
And with Blackwater struggling, Cervantes took charge.
The win hiked the Elite’s record to 6-3 as they will now hope for a Jumbo Plastic loss on Tuesday for them to join NLEX in the semifinals.
A victory by the Giants, who beat the Elite in the elimination round, over the Cafe France Bakers on the other hand, would net them the No.2 seed with the Elite dropping to No. 3.
“Either way, I’m pleased with our position. We’re getting there and we’re feeling how it is to be a winning team.”
University of Santo Tomas forward Kevin Ferrer added 13 points and five rebounds for Blackwater.
Banal had 16 for the quarterfinals-bound Gems, who reeled to their third straight setback and wound up their elimination round with a 5-4 mark.