BLACKWATER Sports survived a faltering finish to pull off a heart-stopping 72-69 victory over a fighting Jumbo Plastic side to grab the solo lead in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Tuesday at the Blue Eagle gym.
Gio Ciriacruz nailed a three-pointer, while Justin Chua connected on an undergoal stab off a last-second drop off from guard Allan Mangahas to preserve the Elite’s fifth victory in six starts.
Chua, a backup big man during the Ateneo Blue Eagles’ historic five-peat UAAP championship, poured in 10 of his team-high 12 points in the second half to lead Blackwater’s rise to the top.
“We’re lucky at nakakuha kami ng panalo. We played below par because una, nanibago kami sa venue because we weren’t able to practice here,” said Blackwater Sports coach Leo Isaac. "But I commend the boys for playing intelligent basketball in the end."
Blackwater led, 64-51, at the halfway mark of the final period before allowing Jumbo Plastic to come within four late in the game.
Isaac credited his boys for their outstanding defense, which saw the Elite hold the Giants to just 31 percent (27-of-87) in the game.
For the moment, Isaac, a former Ginebra role player back in his heyday in the PBA, said he likes his team’s chances heading into the playoffs.
“We do have a good schedule kaya maganda ang chance namin sa playoffs. We have a week off before our next game against Big Chill. So at least, we have enough time to correct our mistakes,” he said.
“Kung makalusot kami sa Big Chil, siyempre ibang kuwento na iyan. So for us, every time we’re on the court, gusto namin competitive kami lagi,” he added.