BLACKWATER Sports clinched an outright semifinals berth after beating Cagayan Valley, 93-70, on Thursday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Trinity University of Asia gym.
University of Santo Tomas stars Kevin Ferrer and Jeric Fortuna led five players in double figures with 13 markers each as the Elite pulled ahead in the second half against a weary Rising Suns squad.
The Elite improved to 7-2 win-loss to capture the automatic semifinal incentive, regardless of the result of their final elimination game against Erase XFoliant on January 31.
Blackwater joins NLEX in the semifinal round as they await the two teams that will emerge from the quarterfinal round.
Pari Llagas had a conference-high 12 points, the same output of Robby Celiz. Allan Mangahas added 11.
“Nagkataon na we were able to be at par with them kahit hindi pa kami nag-iinit,” said Blackwater Sports head coach Leo Isaac. “Kaya by the time na our players got warmed up, hindi na sila nakasabay.”
Playing back-to-back games, Cagayan Valley wrapped up its elimination round by dropping to solo third place at 6-4 as they lost steam in the second half following a rousing win over Fruitas just last Tuesday.
Big Chill and Jose Rizal University are in joint fourth with 5-4 while Fruitas, Café France, Boracay Rum, and Cebuana Lhuillier each have 4-5 slates.
The Elite ended the third period with a 16-4 windup for a 60-46 lead. The Rising Suns struggled from the field and weren’t able to keep pace as Fortuna scored seven quick points during a 9-0 start to the fourth period.
James Forrester had 16 points for the Rising Suns. After combining for 50 points against the Shakers, Eloy Poligrates and Ping Exciminiano were limited to only 10 points each.
“We were able to control the two leftys, Poligrates and Exciminiano,” Isaac said.
The Rising Suns only converted 37 percent of their shots (28-of-76).
Blackwater Sports (93) – Ferrer 13, Fortuna 13, Llagas 12, Celiz 12, Mangahas 11, Mazo 8, G. Ciriacruz 7, Chua 6, Pe 6, I. Ciriacruz 4, Bagatsing 1.
Cagayan Valley (70) – Forrester 16, Poligrates 10, Exciminiano 10, Celada 8, Webb 7, Almazan 7, Canta 3, Bringas 3, Cruz 2, Gusi 2, Lao 2, Villanil 0.
Quarterscores: 17-18, 37-31, 60-46, 93-70.