It took three quarters for Blackwater Elite to find their groove. But when they did, Kia Picanto simply had no answer to their relentless charge.
Mike DiGregorio caught fire in the third quarter as the Elite overpowered the Picanto, 95-76, Friday night to stay within quarterfinal range in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
On the heels of their stunning upset of San Miguel last week, the Elite also got solid performances from JP Erram and Allein Maliksi as Blackwater stayed in the running for the eighth and last playoff berth with two games remaining.
“We just wanted to keep our hopes alive for the playoffs and it can only happen if we continue our winning ways,” said Elite coach Leo Isaac.
“The win against San Miguel was a shot in the arm, but we want to move on to the next level and play with a lot of maturity.”
Rome Dela Rosa also sustained his resurgence on a night when Magnolia struggled early as the Hotshots repulsed the GlobalPort Batang Pier, 96-81, to close in on a twice-to-beat advantage.
The fourth-year pro notched a career-best output for the third time in the last four games, finishing with 18 points—all coming in the last three periods as the Hotshots fought back from an early 13-point deficit on their way to a seventh win in 10 games.
Justin Melton and Ian Sangalang also played key roles in the second half comeback, tallying 14 points each, while Paul Lee returned to also spark the Hotshots, who rebounded from a 95-101 loss to Rain or Shine last Saturday in Pangasinan.
The result left the Batang Pier in a three-team tie from seventh to ninth spots with Phoenix and Blackwater. Only the top eight teams will advance to the playoffs.
BLACKWATER 95 – KIA 76
BLACKWATER 95—DiGregorio 21, Erram 17, Maliksi 14, Sena 9, Belo 8, Marcelo 8, Cruz 5, Pinto 5, Jose 4, Javier 3, Banal 1, Cortez 0, Palma 0, Neypes 0.
KIA 76—Tubid 22, Celda 21, Corpuz 9, Lastimosa 8, McCarthy 6, Reyes 5, Camson 3, Khobuntin 2, Galanza 0, Sara 0, Escoto 0, Yee 0.
Quarters: 25-21, 47-41, 77-65, 95-76.
MAGNOLIA 96 – GLOBALPORT 81
MAGNOLIA 96—Dela Rosa 18, Melton 14, Sangalang 14, Lee 13, Barroca 12, Ramos 11, Pingris 6, Jalalon 5, Simon 2, Reavis 1, Herndon 0, Brondial 0.
GLOBALPORT 81—Nabong 21, Grey 13, Anthony 12, Teng 12, Pringle 5, Araña, 5, Gabayni 4, Sargent 3, Elorde 2, Flores 2, Taha 2, Juico 0, Guinto 0.
Quarters: 17-22, 34-39, 69-61, 96-81.
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