BLACKWATER contorolled what it could on the court then left it all up to chance after frustrating Phoenix, 83-78, in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Elite overcame a handful of misses from the charity stripe in the payoff period by making the necessary stops down the stretch to pull off the hard-earned win - and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Poy Erram typified the defense with a crucial block on Jeff Chan while the Elite turned to a balanced offensive attack to finish the eliminations at 5-6 and climb to solo eighth spot, moving a half-game head of the Fuel Masters who dropped to 4-6.
The Elite, though, still need to wait for the results of the remaining games to determine their fate.
"I just challenged the players," Elite coach Leo Isaac said. "I told them stories how great players before were able to overcome such circumstances and keep on winning."
Mike DiGregorio, Mac Belo, and Raymsr Jose registered 14 points apiece. The trio also each scored crucial baskets that kept the Fuel Masters at bay at crunchtime.
But it was Erram who stood tallest on both ends when the Elite needed him to. The 6-foot-7 slotman converted the tip-in that gave his team the lead for good at 76-75 with a little less than four minutes left before coming up with that block on Chan in the waning seconds.
Erram finished with another dominant performance of 12 points, 19 rebounds, four blocks, and four assists in almost 41 minutes of play.
Gelo Alolino scored on a looping layup to pull Phoenix to within three points, 80-77, with 1:46 left, but that was the closest they got.
Jason Perkins led the Fuel Masters with 17 points, but the rookie forward went scoreless in the final frame.
BLACKWATER 83 - DiGregorio 14, Belo 14, Jose 14, Sumang 12, Erram 12, Pinto 5, Sena 4, Palma 4, Cortez 3, Cruz 1, Javier 0, Banal 0, Marcelo 0, Neypes 0
PHOENIX 78 - Perkins 17, Jazul 13, Chan 13, Kramer 11, Alolino 10, Chua 6, Mendoza 6, Dehesa 2, Intal 0, Wilson 0, Eriobu 0, Guevarra 0, Cortes 0
Quarterscores: 14-19, 40-41, 65-65, 83-78