Elite stay in top four contention, rout Dyip
BINAN, Laguna—Henry Walker scored 26 points that went with 11 rebounds in an easy Petron Saturday Special outing and led Blackwater to a 120-99 victory over Clumbian at Alonte Sports Center here for a shot at a twice-to-beat privilege in the first round of the PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs, which the franchise can avail for the first time next weekend.
Walker, an NBA veteran whose leadership has been the source of inspiration for Blackwater, played less than 29 minutes and the Elite led from start to finish to improve to 7-3 and make their clash with Phoenix Petroleum one for a quarterfinal bonus that several powerhouse teams in the field don’t even have a shot at anymore.
Four locals tossed in 10 or more to back up Walker –who shot a perfect 9-for-9 from the field, counting three triples—as Blackwater denied the Dyip a respectable exit with a 10th loss against a win.
“It’s a big game for us, the biggest game for this franchise,” coach Bong Ramos said as he failed to hide the excitement for the matchup that will happen at 4:30 p.m. next Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “There will be no Halloween break for us. We will spend the next days preparing for Phoenix.”
Ramos told the Inquirer that he sees no weaknesses in the Phoenix game and said that they would need to play their best defensive game of the conference to have a shot at beating Eugene Phelps and the Fuel Masters.
“If we can play defense the way we want to, shut them down in a sense, makaka-tsamba kami (we’re going to get lucky),” he said of the match, which will also be a big one for his counterpart Louie Alas and his charges who are also seeking to give their franchise a first-ever twice-to-beat advantage.
“I feel that my players are up to a game that big,” Ramos went on. “This is what we have been playing for. It’s going to be a good game for both teams.”
Akeem Wright had 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Dyip, who ended another forgettable season.
Meanwhile, Magnolia shoots for No. 1 seeding Sunday also at the Big Dome in Cubao when the Hotshots tangle with Barangay Ginebra in the game that has been the best crowd-drawing match-up of the league for years.
The Hotshots have already secured a twice-to-beat privilege but are determined to turn back the Gin Kings and bag top ranking which would mean the lightest assignment in the quarterfinals—drawing the eighth-seeded qualifier.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone is aware of that and will be shooting for a win at all cost in the 6:45 p.m. contest.
“We need it for a top four position which in itself is critical,” Cone said as he and his Kings shoot to win this tournament for the third straight season.
Alaska also shoots for a sure win-once advantage in the quarterfinals when the Aces, still licking the wounds of a 116-110 loss at the hands of NLEX on Friday, battle ousted NorthPort in the 4:30 p.m. game.