BLACKWATER flashed its newfound depth on Sunday when its role players stood tall in the team’s 103-100 win over Alaska in the PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday night.
While Roi Sumang stood tallest off the bench, Ronjay Buenafe and Raymond Aguilar also delivered significant numbers as they provided support to dynamic forwards Mac Belo and Art dela Cruz.
Buenafe registered nine of his 16 points in the third quarter where the Elite outscored the Aces, 31-22, to turn the game around. No wonder Blackwater coach Leo Isaac is happy.
“For the role na binibigay ni Ronjay sa amin, minutes and positive points, we appreciate it,” Isaac said.
However, Buenafe, who knocked down four three-pointers, didn’t get a chance to sustain his hot shooting in the payoff period as Isaac chose to stick with another bench player who was having a hot hand in Sumang.
“There's this tiyempo of players inside the playing court eh,” Isaac explained. “We can't just insert Roi or Ronjay back into the game when he has been cool on the bench for so many minutes.”
“Sometimes there is this experiment on coaches,” he added. “You want to see players who can really perform during crunch time. Kanina, I wanted to see Roi Sumang deliver during crunch time, I wanted Belo to deliver in crunch time.”
Sumang scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth where Belo also hit a crucial long trey that kept the Aces at bay. Aguilar also contributed in the fourth where he scored seven of his 10 points.
“I wanted players inside the playing court on the crucial stage of the game to really showcase what they have,” Isaac said. “Sino sa kanila ang nakaranas ng ganyang sitwasyon sa PBA? Wala. Ngayon lang. Ngayon lang sila nasasalang sa ganyang sitwasyon, so I wanted to see.”
“And sabihin na natin, we were able to withstand the strong comeback of Alaska,” he added. “And for now, nakita ko, nakita ko ngayon, I had reason to believe that these players can be really good players.”