BLACKWATER managing to survive a fiery Alaska comeback in the stretch should augurs well for a team looking to make a serious run at a playoffs berth in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Rookie Mac Belo believes the character of the Elite was greatly tested by the Aces in a game where they managed to hang on, keep their poise, and pull off a pulsating 103-100 victory on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elite led by as many as 92-78 in the fourth period but had to endure a huge Aces rally before finally notching their fifth win in nine outings.
Games like this, according to Belo, will hasten the maturity of a young franchise like the Elite, who are in strong contention of making the quarterfinals for the second straight edition of the all-Filipino conference.
“Magandang pang momentum sa amin itong panalo namin sa Alaska,” said the former Far Eastern University standout, noting the team will have traditional powers Barangay Ginebra and Star for its final two opponents in the eliminations.
Belo finished with a team-high 21 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and a block shot. He was 5 of 10 from the field, and evenly distributed his output in both the first and second halves.
He also had a lot of help this time from the likes of Roi Sumang, Ronjay Buenafe, Art dela Cruz, and Raymond Aguilar, who all finished in double figures.
“Maganda yung teamwork namin dahil lahat nagko-contrirbute, so good news sa amin,” Belo noted.
The Gilas cadet likewise managed to hold his own in a match-up against Alaska stalwart Calvin Abueva.
‘The Beast’ had a game-high of 23 points and 14 rebounds, and two assists, but committed a total of seven turnovers and missed a potential game-tying three-pointer at the corner in Alaska’s final possession.
“Lagi kaming nagbabantayan kanina, talagang na-challenge ako sa kanya kasi alam naman natin gaano kagaling si Calvin at tsaka kung gaano ka-aggressive,” he said.
“Calvin is Calvin. ‘The Beast’ yun.”