BLACKWATER Sports further improved its chances of bagging an outright semifinal seat in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup with a 91-80 win over Cebuana Lhuillier on Tuesday at the Trinity University of Asia gym.
Robby Celiz and Kevin Ferrer led the Elite in the second and third quarters en route to their sixth win in eight outings.
The Elite, behind only early semifinalist NLEX (9-1), gained a full-game ahead of Cagayan Valley and Big Chill, both with 5-3 win-loss slates.
The top two after the elimination round advance outright to the semifinals, with the third to sixth placers playing in the quarterfinals.
Celiz scored nine of his 20 points in the second period, while Ferrer had 17 including eight in the third period. UST star Ferrer also hit three-of-five from behind the arc.
“We were able to build a 15-point lead in the third quarter. Noong bumalik ’yung Cebuana, ’yung composure (ng mga players) showed,” said Blackwater Sports coach Leo Isaac.
Ian Mazo was four-of-four from three-point range and finished with 13 points, while Jeric Fortuna had 11 markers. Pari Llagas also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Ferrer scored on a slam in the fourth period to lift the Elite to a 74-63 lead with six minutes to play.
The Gems were able to cut the deficit to six points, 81-75, after a four-point play by ex-pro James Martinez but the Elite went on an 8-0 run capped by a Fortuna triple to seal the victory.
Jopher Custodio had 17 points for the Gems, who slipped to joint eighth with Boracay Rum at 3-4.
Blackwater Sports (91) – Celiz 20, Ferrer 17, Mazo 13, Fortuna 11, Llagas 7, Chua 6, Mangahas 5, Lo 3, I. Ciriacruz 3, Bagatsing 2, Abdul 2, G. Ciriacruz 2.
Cebuana Lhuillier (80) – Custodio 17, Buensuceso 13, Banal 11, Bustos 11, Martinez 8, Leynes 8, Rowe 7, Zamar 5, Jamito 0, Sanga 0, Mangahas 0, Suguitan 0, Sarangay 0, Dizon 0.
Quarterscores: 15-19; 39-33; 66-58; 91-80.