Blackwater enters playoffs for 1st time, eliminates Mahindra
Blackwater secured its franchise’s first trip to the playoffs after holding off Mahindra, 108-99, in a battle for the last quarterfinals slot in the 2016 Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elite blew a 20-point fourth quarter lead before veteran guard Mike Cortez kept the Enforcers, who pulled to within five with under a minute left, at bay by scoring six points in the final 50.5 seconds.
Cortez scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Reil Cervantes added 24 points, built on 6-of-8 3-pointers for Blackwater, which will face No. 3 Rain or Shine in the quarterfinals with the Elasto Painters owning a twice-to-beat advantage.
“This is our first playoffs appearance since entering the PBA. We’re excited about this,” said Blackwater head coach Leo Isaac, whose team wrapped up its elimination round campaign with a 3-8 card after a winless stint in the same conference last season.
“I’m happy for management. Going into our second year, we’re getting results after developing into a team that can compete with the top caliber teams,” Isaac added.
Cervantes, whose second of four 3-pointers in the final frame pushed Blackwater’s lead to 86-66 with 10:37 remaining, and Cortez combined for 26 of Blackwater’s 28 points in the fourth period.
Aldrech Ramos scored 22 points as he, Michael DiGregorio, KG Canaleta and LA Revilla spearheaded Mahindra’s rally.
A drive by Revilla made it a five-point game, 104-99, with 46.0 seconds left., but his triple rattled out after his team forced a five-second violation and Cortez sank four free throws in the last 35 seconds to seal the game.