JERICHO Cruz waxed hot during a furious second half run as Blackwater Sports overcame a 15-point deficit to stun Jumbo Plastic Linoleum, 91-81, and move into the semifinal round of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Cruz took over by scoring 17 of his game-high 29 points in the third with the sixth-ranked Elite blowing past the Giants to secure a Final Four berth.
The come-from-behind win put Blackwater Sports in a best-of-three showdown with second-seed Big Chill.
Blackwater Sports won after trailing by 25-40 in the second period before Cruz's heroics backed by the team's pressure defense sparked the rally.
Blackwater Sports trailed, 25-40, in the second period but Cruz sparked the offense and the Elite used pressure defense to become the first team to reach the semifinals as the sixth-seed.
“At the back of our minds, we know we can beat them anytime. All we have to do is play disciplined basketball, control ourselves and our emotions, and play with a lot of intensity,” said Blackwater Sports coach Leo Isaac.
“It was a good test of character for us,” Isaac added.
Cruz went 3 for 4 from beyond the arc and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“Ibang klase ’yung intensity na binibigay nung bata. We would want him to go for isolation plays and one-on-one plays but he surprised us with his three-point shots and it came at a crucial part of the game,” said Isaac.
Allan Mangahas added 17 points. Kevin Ferrer and Pari Llagas had 14 and 11 points respectively for Blackwater Sports, which forced a do-or-die game after an 86-78 victory on Tuesday.
After trailing 33-44 at the half, Blackwater played effectively on defense as its fullcourt press backstopped its comeback to finally take the lead on a lay-up by Mangahas, 56-55.
Cruz had back-to-back triples as the Elite grabbed a 63-58 lead.
Blackwater also used an 8-0 spurt for an 81-71 lead with three minutes left in the fourth.
Karl Dehesa had 12 of his 18 points in the first half but third-seed Jumbo Plastic could not hold on to the lead.
Blackwater Sports (91) – Cruz 29, A. Mangahas 17, Ferrer 14, Llagas 11, Ciriacruz 8, Bulawan 7, Austria 3, Manguera 2, Bagatsing 0, Pe 0.
Jumbo Plastic Linoleum (81) – Dehesa 18, Romero 17, Colina 10, Tan 10, Ballesteros 8, Petilos 7, Arboleda 6, Magat 5, Alano 0.
Quarterscores: 21-27; 33-44; 66-63; 91-81.