An Elite finish
Blackwater hit the shots that it needed to in the endgame on Sunday night to pull out a 112-104 victory over Alaska as the Elite sealed their best-ever elimination round stint in the PBA by copping third seeding in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Ahead by just a point heading into the final 2:12, the Elite dug deep by scoring eight of the game’s last nine points with Roi Sumang, Rabeh al-Hussaini and freshman Ray Parks Jr. taking turns hitting the shots that hurt the Aces the most.
Ending the eliminations with a 7-4 mark sealed for the Elite their best conference performance ever since joining the league in 2014, and their lofty rank in the playoffs assured that they will be playing on a level field—a best-of-five series against the No. 6 squad.
Barangay Ginebra carved out a 127-123 overtime win over Columbian later in the night to finish at No. 4 and earn the right to face No. 5 in the quarterfinals.
The Dyip closed out their stint on a sour note at 3-8.
Alaska will play Friday against either Phoenix Pulse or Meralco for No. 8, if the Bolts upset San Miguel Beer Wednesday.
“[I commend the boys] for really sticking to each other,” said rookie coach Aris Dimaunahan, who turned things around for this team after taking over from Bong Ramos. “They embraced the game plan and trusted it to the letter.”
“[This] is a great comeback for us after falling to TNT who beat us black and blue,” he added.
The victory also gave the Elite momentum going into the next round—just exactly what Dimaunahan hoped for—as they brace for the eventual series against Rain or Shine, perennial powerhouse San Miguel Beer or Magnolia.
The rookie Parks, who has been a significant cog in the young club’s brilliant run so far, was a picture of all-around brilliance all game. He finished with a near triple-double of 25 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
There were a total of six players which finished in twin digits for Dimaunahan, counting Sumang and Mac Belo, who finished with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting.
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