MAC Belo showed he’s back in top form, lifting Blackwater to a 92-87 victory over shorthanded Rain or Shine on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome just before the PBA goes on an extended holiday break.
The sophomore combo forward, hampered by a knee injury that cost him the Rookie of the Year award, knocked down five triples, the last proving to be the dagger that pierced the hearts of the Elasto Painters.
By atoning for its first loss of the season to Meralco, the Elite tied their victims at 1-1 in the PBA Governors Cup and registered their first victory in 12 meetings against Rain or Shine.
It was also the former expansion team’s first win at the Cuneta Astrodome.
“Our defense had to hold against the firepower of ROS, and indeed, we were able to sustain the defense we wanted….and on the winning end, we were convert the big shots,” Elite coach Leo Isaac said.
“We hope this win before the New Year will boost our campaign,” he added.
Belo hit the shot that mattered most, receiving a crosscourt pass from Mike DiGregorio and immediately launching from the left side of the top of the key over the arms of Gilas Pilipinas teammate Raymond Almazan as the leather found the bottom of the net and gave the Elite a 90-85 lead with a minute and 39 seconds left.
That capped of an impressive performance that saw Belo finish with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting overall, seven boards, two blocks, and one assist in almost 37 minutes as a starter.
The national pool member formed a potent one-two punch with Mike DiGregorio, who added 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals in 35 minutes.
Rookie Raymar Jose continued to put up solid numbers, tallying 12 points and eight boards in 20 minutes, while Allein Maliksi proved he’s not just a gunner as he chipped in 10 points, 10 boards, five assists, and one steal.
More than their offense, it was the Elite’s defense that Isaac raved about as no ROS player scored at least 15 points, with Chris Tiu’s 14 points leading the way in a losing effort.
BLACKWATER 92 – Belo 25, Digregorio 23, Jose 12, Maliksi 10, Erram 9, Pinto 7, Sumang 5, Sena 2, Cortez 0, Marcelo 0, Javier 0
ROS 87 – Tiu 14, Norwood 13, Daquioag 13, Almazan 10, Maiquez 9, Belga 7, Borboran 6, Yap 5, Trollano 4, Ponferada 2, Nambatac 2
Quarterscores: 28-25, 47-44, 65-64, 92-87