Blackwater kept its flickering quarterfinals hopes alive after beating NLEX, 104-98, at the resumption of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Under tremendous pressure in a must-win game, the Elite dictated the tempo from start to finish behind the spectacular performance of import Greg Smith, Mike Digregorio and Nino Canaleta.
“Going into the game, I told the players to give themselves a good chance of making it to the final round,” said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac. “We are just prepping ourselves to be in a situation where we can enjoy the games against San Miguel Beer and Ginebra.”
The win was Elite’s second in eight games and they must win their last three opponents to have a shot for a playoff for No. 8 spot.
Power forward Kyle Pascual, who had six points and seven rebounds, gave the Elite their biggest advantage in the game, 84-66, with a jumper with 38 ticks left in the third period.
Sean Anthony tried to resuscitate the Road Warriors with his two free throws cutting the lead to 98-102 with 1:26 remaining.
But NLEX failed to sustain the momentum en route to its eighth straight loss in as many games.
Smith finished with a near triple-double performance of 24 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists plus two blocks, while Canaleta added 24 points, including five triples, five rebounds and three blocks.
Digregorio posted 12 of his 22 points in the third period while Mark Cruz contributed nine points also for the Elite.
Kevin Alas scored 19 points and Rabeh Al-Hussaini had 17 points to lead the Road Warriors, who drew a dismal performance from import Wayne Chism.
Chism was held down to just nine markers on 4-of-20 shooting from the field on top of 15 rebounds.