Philippine basketball

Blackwater survives NLEX rally as PBA On Tour kicks off with new rules in play

JR Isaga

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Blackwater survives NLEX rally as PBA On Tour kicks off with new rules in play

SKY HIGH. Blackwater forward Tyrus Hill attempts a dunk in the 2023 PBA On Tour.

The PBA On Tour exhibition series gets underway in Caloocan City as the Blackwater Bossing nip a late NLEX Road Warriors rally

MANILA, Philippines – The Blackwater Bossing kicked off the PBA On Tour exhibition series with a 93-88 win over the NLEX Road Warriors at the Caloocan Sports Complex on Sunday, May 21.

Reserve guard Mike Ayonayon led the way with 16 points off the bench on 6-of-10 shooting, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists in just 18 minutes, while fellow gunner Rey Suerte added 14 points in as many minutes.

Diminutive playmaker RK Ilagan showed off his hustle with 9 points, a team-high 8 rebounds with 4 from the offensive end, and 4 dimes. High-flyer Tyrus Hill added 8 points, 6 boards, and 2 blocks in a team-high 27 minutes.

It was practically all Blackwater from the get-go as James Sena drilled a three with 1:32 left in the first half for an 18-point lead, 49-31, and the Bossing stayed ahead by as many as 16, 66-50, halfway through the third quarter.

However, NLEX woke up with a 19-5 barrage to get within two, 69-71, off a Sean Anthony layup in the final minute, just before a Mike DiGregorio response from downtown salvaged Blackwater a 74-69 lead heading into the fourth.

Anthony helped the Road Warriors stay within striking distance until the 2:30 mark of the payoff period, 88-85, but the Bossing defense erased any comeback hopes as they pushed the lead back to 7, 92-85, off a pair of clutch Ilagan charities with just 32 ticks left.

NLEX’s last-ditch rally was also notable for the league’s first implementation of the coach’s challenge, which the Road Warriors successfully used with 3:22 left in regulation to confirm a Joshua Torralba foul on Anthony.

The coach’s challenge is just one of the many rule changes the PBA is trying out in this no-bearing slate of exhibition games.

Anthony paced the loss with a game-high 18 points, while Don Trollano tallied a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Blackwater played without the leadership of JVee Casio and Troy Rosario, while NLEX put up a great effort despite not having young standouts Matt Nieto and new Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser.

The Bossing’s win also marked a successful PBA debut for former Ateneo high school mentor Joe Silva, who took over for the newly signed Jeffrey Cariaso.

The Scores

Blackwater 93 – Ayonayon 16, Suerte 14, Sena 9, Ilagan 9, Hill 8, Torralba 8, Ular 6, DiGregorio 5, Amer 5, Taha 5, Publico 4, McCarthy 3, Banal 1.

NLEX 88 – Anthony 18, Trollano 15, Galanza 13, Fajardo 10, Alas 8, Rosales 7, Doliguez 5, Rangel 4, Miranda 3, Gabo 3, Pascual 2, Celda 0.

Quarters: 23-16, 49-36, 74-69, 93-88.


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