MANILA, Philippines - The Blackwater Elite drew strength from Mac Belo and Mike DiGregorio down the stretch in a wire-to-wire 92-87 win over the Rain or Shine Elastopainters in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay Friday, December 29.
Rain or Shine was leading 79-77 midway the fourth period until the Elite went on a 10-3 run, highlighted by back-to-back Belo buckets, to take the upper hand, 87-82.
A Beau Belga 3-point play kept the E-Painters within striking distance but a Belo triple with 1:39 gave Blackwater enough breathing room, 90-85.
The E-Painters once again trimmed the deficit to 3, 87-90, and had a chance to score an equalizer after Gabe Norwood stole the ball from DiGregorio. However, Norwood turned the ball over on the other side of the court as DiGregorio compensated for his mistake by securing the Elite's insurance free throws.
The win marked Blackwater's first win against Rain or Shine since it joined the PBA and its first victory at the Cuneta Astrodome
Belo dropped a game-high 25 points, 9 coming in the fourth, on 5 triples to go with 7 boards while DiGregorio had 23 markers, 4 assists and 3 rebounds.
"Like what we've said, our has to hold against the firepower of Rain or Shine and indeed we sustained the defense that we wanted and made crucial stops. On the winning end, we were able to convert big shots," said Blackwater head coach Leo Isaac.
It was a nip-and-tuck battle throughout as the Elite took an early 10-point lead, 12-2, before the E-Painters turned things around in the second quarter, leading also by 10 points, 35-25.
But Blackwater zoomed into the driver's seat again with a 22-9 spurt to end the first half with a 47-44 lead.
Chris Tiu starred for Rain or Shine with 14 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists while Raymond Almazan had 10 points and 11 boards.
Both teams now carry a 1-1 win-loss card.
Blackwater (92): Belo 25, DiGregorio 23, Jose 12, Maliksi 10, Erram 8, Pinto 7, Sumang 5, Sena 2, Javier 0, Marcelo 0
Rain or Shine (87): Tiu 14, Norwood 13, Daquioag 13, Almazan 10, Maiquez 8, Belga 7, Borboran 6, Yap 5, Trollano 4, King 3, Ponferada 2, Nambatac 2
Quarter scores: 25-28, 47-44, 65-64, 92-87. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.