BLACKWATER sustained its impressive start to the season as it outlasted Meralco, 86-84, in their PBA Philippine Cup matchup on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Denok Miranda hit an off-balanced shot that put them up for good after Mac Belo led a late fightback as the rejigged Elite won their second straight game for the best start in franchise history.
Joseph Yeo missed a potential game-winning three-pointer for the Bolts in the final 3.8 seconds.
“We had to show some character,” Elite coach Leo Isaac said after beating the last Governors’ Cup losing finalist. “We have to show that we are the team we want to be."
“Good enough, Denok was able to hit a difficult shot and Mac Belo was also there at crunch time,” he added after his team already doubled its winning total in the last season-ending conference.
Belo continued to live up to expectations, pumping in 12 of his 25 points in the payoff period, capped by a triple from top of the key that knotted the count at 84 with one minute and 40 seconds left.
The top rookie pick also shone on defense with a block on Reynel Hugnatan that prevented the Bolts to regain the lead, while giving the Elite the possession. He completed an all-around effort with six boards, three steals, and two blocks in 36 minutes.
That set the stage for the heroics of Miranda, who drove past Baser Amer before getting a tough shot plus the foul over Chris Newsome for the game-winner with four seconds left.
Miranda finished with 11 points, seven assists, and three boards to emerge as the third Elite who scored in twin digits, the other Kyle Pascual, who had 13 and four.
Cliff Hodge showed the way for the Bolts, flirting with a triple-double of 14 points, nine boards, and eight assists on top of one steal and one block that went for naught.
BLACKWATER 86 – Belo 25, Pascual 13, Miranda 11, Dela Cruz 8, Sena 6, Pinto 5, Aguilar 5, Cervantes 5, Forrester 3, Ababou 3, Gamalinda 2, Banal 0, Buenafe 0
MERALCO 84 – Hodge 14, Grey 11, Newsome 11, Al-Hussaini 9, Amer 8, Daquioag 6, Hugnatan 6, Yeo 5, Chua 4, Faundo 4, Nabong 4, Dillinger 2
Quarterscores: 22-27, 39-41, 68-67, 86-84