Blackwater defeats Phoenix to stay alive


MANILA — The Blackwater Elite remained in contention for a playoff spot with a hard-earned 83-76 victory over the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Blackwater thus finished the elimination round with a 5-6 win-loss card to take the solo eighth spot in standings, securing at least a knockout game for the last quarterfinals berth. The Elite had to wait until the end of the elimination round schedule on March 2 to determine their final seeding.

Despite the loss, Phoenix still remained in playoff contention but must win its final elimination game against GlobalPort to stay alive. Phoenix and two other teams — TNT and Meralco — are currently tied at ninth to 11th spot, all with a 4-6 win-loss card.

Emerging star center JP Erram keyed the Blackwater victory with another huge performance on both ends of the court, finishing with 12 points and 19 whopping rebounds — his seventh double-double for the season — along with four blocks and four assists in over 40 minutes of play. Erram thus matched the number of double-doubles of reigning four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo this season. The 6’8” 28-year-old center is now the PBA’s leading rebounder this conference.

Erram also scored the go-ahead for Blackwater on a tip-in with less than four minutes and then blocked a shot by Phoenix’s Jeff Chan with seconds left to ensure his team’s victory.

Mac Belo, Mike DiGregorio, and Raymar Jose scored 14 points apiece, with the three draining clutch baskets in the homestretch. Roi Sumang added 12.

Jason Perkins led Phoenix with 17 points, but the rookie went scoreless in the fourth quarter.

Both teams missed one key player each – Allein Maliksi for Blackwater and Matthew Wright for Phoenix. The two are with the Gilas Pilipinas team now in Melbourne for their battle against Australia in the 2019 Fiba World Cup qualifier on Thursday.

GlobalPort 108, Kia 91

The GlobalPort Batang Pier lost a 16-point lead but came back strong in the homestretch to pull off a 108-91 victory over the hapless Kia Picanto.

The Batang Pier unleashed a 24-6 run to finish off the Picanto after the latter managed to climb back from a double-digit deficit to grab the lead at 85-84.

The win boosted the Batang Pier’s playoff hopes as GlobalPort tied Ginebra at sixth to seventh place, both with a 5-5 win-loss card. GlobalPort can punch a quarterfinals ticket if it wins its last elimination round game on March 2 against Phoenix.

Kia suffered a ninth loss in 10 games. The already eliminated Picanto play their last 2018 Philippine Cup game Friday against the defending champion San Miguel Beer.

Kelly Nabong and Sean Anthony led GlobalPort with 21 points apiece. Nabong also tallied 13 rebounds and five blocks. Anthony had eight boards, four steals, and two steals.

Stanley Pringle added 15 points, including two straight three-pointers in the fourth quarter that pulled GlobalPort back in front after Kia grabbed the lead. Pringle also had eight boards, five assists, and two steals.

Reden Celda led Kia with 20 points, including eight in the fourth quarter when the Picanto launched a searing rally to grab the lead, albeit temporarily.

Game Thursday: (2019 Fiba World Cup qualifiers) Gilas Pilipinas vs. Australia (in Melbourne).