JERICHO Cruz scored 31 points, including 16 in the third quarter, as Blackwater Sports bounced back from a lackluster first half to beat Derulo Accelero, 94-80, on Tuesday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Trinity University of Asia gym.
Cruz helped steady the Elite, which uncharacteristically started slow and were surprisingly tied at 43 at halftime with a league lightweight in the Oilers.
Blackwater Sports climbed to sixth place with a 6-3 win-loss card ahead of idle Café France (7-4).
Nevertheless, Blackwater Sports coach Leo Isaac was satisfied with how his wards came back before their finals rematch against NLEX on Thursday.
“Bottom line is we got the victory,” Isaac said. “No matter how good or how bad, as long as we have the game and we accomplished our mission of winning this game.”
Blackwater will face NLEX for the first time since the Elite won the Foundation Cup last summer, ending the Road Warriors reign of four straight conferences.
“Gusto sana namin in good mental condition kami for Thursday. We won our two games this 2014. We are using those victories to prepare mentally against NLEX,” said Isaac.
Cruz, who once tallied 33 points for Adamson in the UAAP in 2012, set up the lopsided win by coming up with an 8-0 run of his own to pull Blackwater to a 53-47 lead midway in the third period.
Allan Mangahas had 17 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, while Gio Ciriacruz had 11 points. Andrew Avillanoza had a solid game with seven points and seven rebounds for Blackwater Sports.
Derulo Accelero fell to 1-10, tying Air21-Arellano for last place in the team standings.
Blackwater Sports (94) – Cruz 31, A. Mangahas 17, Ciriacruz 11, Suguitan 8, Avillanoza 7, Manguera 5, Bagatsing 5, Bulawan 3, Llagas 3, J. Mangahas 2, Austria 2, Acibar 0.
Derulo Accelero (80) – Soyuid 21, Manuel 16, Corpuz 11, Wong 10, Bautista 8, Wierzba 6, Jeffries 6, Roncal 2, Eman 0, Gingerich 0, Importante 0, Morillo 0.
Quarterscores: 22-24; 43-43; 67-61; 94-80.