BLACKWATER Sports kept its immaculate record after a 74-66 win over ACBA Australia in a highly physical match to arrange a title showdown with host Malaysia in the 2014 Chief Minister International Cup in Penang, Malaysia.
The Filipinos trailed the tall and hefty Australians in the first half, but found a catalyst in veteran guard Allan Mangahas who sparked a late charge by the team to pull off the come-from-behind win.
Mangahas torched the opposition from the outside and time and again opened up the defense of the Australians, finally giving the Filipinos the lead for good, 67-59, in the final six minutes.
“Tyinaga na lamang po namin na makipag-palitan ng puntos sa kanila. Kasi maikli lang ang quarter, ten minutes, ten minutes lang. Naisip namin na kami rin mahihirapan kung makakapulas ang kalaban,” said Mangahas, who led Blackwater with 12 points.
The victory was the third straight for the Filipinos, tying them with the Malaysians who they meet in what has turned into a title decider serving as a Ramadan treat to local cage fans.
“We really have to put everything in this game. All the marbles are at stake in this crucial game. It’s a winner take all game,” said team governor Silliman Sy of the title game against the hosts.
“The boys know what is on the line here. We didn’t go to Penang and reach this point only to relax,” added the brother of Ever Bilena CEO Dioceldo Sy, who already vowed to give the team a championship bonus if it wins its first ever international title as a PBA franchise.
Coach Leo Isaac already gave Blackwater a short run-through of the plays the team will utilize against Malaysia which is bannered by two American imports in Devon Sullivan and Chris Kuete, along with Filipino big man Bryan Illad.
The Filipinos found the Australians a tough nut to crack earlier especially with ACBA banking on towering players Jed Atherton, Daniel Briggs, Mahesh Padmanabhan, and Jankovi Vladimir.
For highlights of the game, see video:
“Ang lalaki nila. Alam nila gamitin katawan nila sa ilalim kaya nahihirapan kami kumuha ng second-chance points,” said forward Bambam Gamalinda.
The game was marred by several heated exchange of words and physical plays, with wingman Glibert Bulawan finding himself at the receiving end of a wayward elbow from one of ACBA’s players.
Bulawan failed to finish the game and was immediately rushed to the hospital after a sustaining a broken nose and complaining of dizziness. Doctors however, cleared him of any serious injury.
Blackwater Sports (74) - Mangahas 12, Tiongson 10, Cruz 10, Llagas 7, Laure 6, Bulawan 6, Gamalinda 6, Ciriacruz 5, Soyud 5, Zamar 4, Bagatsing 2, Austria 1.
ACBA Australia (66) - Padmanabhan 20, Vladimir 11, Sidek 10, Atherton 9, Ayuk 8, Briggs 4, Adu 4, Chung 0, Duran 0, Mantua 0.