Blackwater shocked last conference’s first runner-up Meralco, 86-84, for its second straight win in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Veteran Dennis Miranda drove to the basket and scored the go-ahead basket with 3.8 ticks left in the game to provide the Elite an 86-84 cushion. The 34-year-old former Far Eastern University (FEU) playmaker finished with 11 points and seven assists.
“In this game against Meralco, we have to show some character and we have to show that we are the team that we want to be challenged by Meralco all the way,” Blackwater head coach Leo Isaac told reporters during the post game interview. “Good enough Dennis hit a difficult drive.”
This year’s top overall pick Mac Belo, who was the first rookie to be named Best Player of the Game in his first game since Paul Lee in 2011, poured in 21 of his game-high 25 points in the second half to go along with six rebounds, three steals and two blocks to lead Blackwater.
The back-to-back win was the first for the Blackwater franchise since entering the league two years ago as one of the two expansion teams together with Mahindra.
“Mac Belo, defensively we held on. For sure, management will be very happy with this win. First time you’ll see Blackwater is on top of the team standings of the PBA,” added Isaac. “We were able to get players that we wanted.”
Big man Kyle Pascual scored 13 points and Arthur Dela Cruz contributed eight points also for the Elite.
“Slowly you can see some glitter in our team hopefully it develops to its full potential. Other teams will be preparing harder for us unlike the past years.”
The Elite proved that their first victory wasn’t a fluke as they challenged the Bolts throughout the game keeping it close in most quarters. Rookie Jonathan Grey, who had nine points in the first half, nailed a trey at the buzzer providing the Bolts a 27-22 lead entering the second period.
Blackwater stayed consistent in the second frame despite Meralco’s impressive shooting but still trailed by two at the half, 39-41. The Elite remained solid offensively in the third period while Meralco was struggling in its defense allowing Belo to score.
Belo, then, nailed 12 in Blackwater’s 18 points in the fourth period including the game-tying three-pointer, 84-all, with still only a minute to go before Miranda’s heroics came in.
Cliff Hodge led Meralco with 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists but the Bolts fell to first loss in their opening game.