Led by rookie guard Brian Heruela’s career-high 27 points, including 12 in a strong fourth quarter closing, on top of 8 rebounds and 7 assists, the Elite spoiled playing coach Manny Pacquiao’s sendoff as he jets off to the US to begin training camp for his upcoming bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr on May 2 in Las Vegas.
“We just give our very best effort every time we go out,” Blackwater coach Leo Isaac said of his team’s spoiler role. “We would like also to extend our heartfelt thanks to Congressman Manny Pacquiao for still attending today’s game.”
KIA spoiled Blackwater’s PBA debut with an unexpected comeback win on season opening day last year. Since then, Blackwater has been waiting for a shot at redemption, especially after the Carnival acted as “Giant Slayers” and notched surprise victories over champion teams San Miguel Beer, Purefoods, and Talk ’N Text.
“If the other expansion team KIA is getting victories versus other regular PBA teams, we would also like to get a victory again,” Isaac said, whose squad won their first PBA game this conference at the expense of San Miguel Beer.
“And what sweeter way it is if we could beat the team that’s beating other PBA teams. We just prepared and told ourselves that we can beat KIA.”
Import Marcus Douthit was very productive on both ends with 24 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 blocks. Veteran Sunday Salvacion scattered 22 points on 4-of-7 three-pointers as Bambam Gamalinda added 10 markers.
Unlike previous outings, the Elite stayed consistent offensively and defensively throughout the entire game, never scoring below 27 points for each quarter.
After a slow 3-11 start, Blackwater wasted no time turning things around as Douthit led a strong first half explosion with 16 of his total output that allowed the Elite to lead by as much as 39-21.
KIA rallied and came as close as 95-89 on a PJ Ramos basket underneath with 5:15 to play. But Douthit and Salvacion conspired for back-to-back treys to bring the lead back up to 101-89 with 4:18 left.
An Eddie Laure (7 points, 4 rebounds) basket with 1:22 left gave Blackwater a comfortable 107-97 cushion that effectively closed the door on KIA, who fell to 3-5 in the standings after back-to-back wins.
Ramos’ conference-high 49 points along with 14 boards and 3 assists were not enough to carry the Carnival as veteran Leo Avenido was the only other KIA player in double figures with 10 points.
Blackwater shot a much better 51% from the field compared to KIA’s 43% field goals.
BLACKWATER (115) - Heruela 27, Douthit 24, Salvacion 22, Gamalinda 10, Laure 7, Reyes 6, Erram 6, Bulawan 6, Ballesteros 4, Faundo 2, Celiz 1.
KIA (104) - Ramos 49, Avenido 10, Cervantes 9, Bagatsing 9, Thiele 8, Revilla 8, Buensuceso 3, Cawaling 2, Dehesa 2, Pascual 2, Yee 2, Poligrates 0, Alvarez 0.
Quarterscores: 29-21, 56-42, 83-69, 115-104