BLACKWATER Sports once again bucked a shaky start to beat Cebuana Lhuillier, 87-80, on Tuesday to capture its third win in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at The Arena in San Juan.
The Elite overcame a 15-point deficit after the first period, outscoring the Gems, 49-35, in the second half to improve their win-loss mark to 3-1.
While pleased to score a victory, Blackwater Sports coach Leo Isaac was clearly annoyed with the way they got it.
“Hindi ko rin nagugustuhan na ilang games na ’yan na ang start ng game, laging magulo,” said Isaac. “Kulang sa energy na kailangan munang lumaki ’yung lamang nila… Hindi maganda.”
“Good thing sa second half, our zone defense was working against the offense of Cebuana and we made some good offensive set-ups para makakuha ng panalo,” said Isaac, whose wards also needed to work doubly hard in the closing stages to edge Café France 86-80 and Cagayan Valley 89-85.
Allan Mangahas finished with 21 points, making nine in the fourth period. He also completed a three-point play that put the Elite ahead, 81-74, after trailing by two points at the four-minute mark.
Blackwater Sports closed in on league-leading Fruitas, which is undefeated in three games. Newcomer EA Regen Medical Group is in second place with a 1-0 win-loss slate.
After upsetting four-time defending champion NLEX last week, Cebuana Lhuillier dropped to joint sixth with Boracay Rum at 2-2.
Paul Zamar pumped in 19 points, as James Martinez added 16 markers for the Gems, who hit 11 triples.
Blackwater Sports (87) – A. Mangahas 21, Ferrer 16, Llagas 12, Chua 9, J. Mangahas 8, Celiz 6, Austria 5, G. Ciriacruz 4, Pe 3, Vigil 2, Bagatsing 1, Singh 0, Lo 0.
Cebuana Lhuillier (80) – Zamar 19, Martinez 16, Dizon 9, Aguilar 8, Elinon 7, Banal 6, Lopez 6, Buensuceso 5, Custodio 3, Chiu 1, Bautista 0, Padilla 0, Bustos 0, Leynes 0.
Quarterscores: 17-32; 38-45; 62-61; 87-80.