BLACKWATER showed its rare playoff appearance is no fluke as it stunned top seed Meralco, 92-91, on Tuesday night to drag their PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinal matchup to a deciding game.
Allein Maliksi scored the Elite’s last four points, the second basket from the top of the key that gave them the lead for good after they squandered an early double-digit lead, completing an upset over the mighty Bolts in front of a shocked Mall of Asia Arena crowd.
“Bottomline is we challenged the players to face the situation and be good players on those kinds of situations,” Elite coach Leo Isaac said after his team grabbed its first-ever win in the playoffs in only their second postseason stint in franchise history.
The Elite also joined eight other teams in playoff history to force sudden against a top-seeded team. According to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III, only three of those last eight teams went on to advance.
The Elite can become the fourth team if they can pull off another shock win over the Bolts in their sudden death is on Thursday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Bill Walker stood at the forefront of the late stand, firing 19 of his 30 points in the final frame, and finishing with 18 boards, six assists, one steal, and one block.
But it was Maliksi who brought the Elite home, scoring on a midrange jumper that put the Elite up, 90-89, off a behind-the-back pass from Roi Sumang, who stole the ball from Allen Durham to make the play possible.
Durham made up for his turnover with a putback off two missed charities of his own in the next play to put the Bolts ahead again.
That, however, set the stage for the heroics of Maliksi, who, off a timeout, curled off a screen, caught a pass from Walker, then buried the game-winning jumper from the top of the key with 9.5 seconds left.
Maliksi finished with 15 points, four boards, two assists, and one steal, against zero turnover, while Mike DiGregorio also delivered with 20 points four rebounds, three assists in almost 39 minutes.
Chris Newsome finished led the Bolts with 19 points, eight boards, five assists, and two blocks, but passed off on a jumper mid-air to Mike Tolomia, who was forced to take a last-gasp floater that went off the mark at the buzzer.
BLACKWATER 92 – Walker 30, Digregorio 20, Maliksi 15, Sumang 9, Erram 7, Sena 4, Marcelo 4, Canaleta 3, Belo 0, Pinto 0, Cruz 0
MERALCO 91 – Newsome 19, Durham 18, Hodge 18, Dillinger 12, Tolomia 11, Amer 8, Hugnatan 5, Lanete 0, Caram 0, De Ocampo 0
Quarterscores: 24-17, 42-40, 63-62, 92-91