IT does seem to take a league giant to bring the best out of Blackwater.
The Elite finally responded to the challenge as they shocked San Miguel Beer, 106-96, to put an end to their four-game losing streak in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Poy Erram held his own against June Mar Fajardo, while Mike DiGregorio hit the biggest baskets in the clutch as the Elite got back on the winning track after their last win came at the expense of contender Ginebra, improving to a 3-5 win-loss record.
The Elite prevailed without injured Mac Belo as they handed the shorthanded Beermen only their second loss in eight games, allowing Magnolia and Alaska to claim a piece of the lead with the defending champions.
“We were extremely blessed in today’s match,” Elite coach Leo Isaac said. “We were able to contain their scorers. It’s a good wake-up call. Finally we’re able to get over the hump."
While they saw the pass-first Chris Ross go aggressive and run rings around the Elite defense, Blackwater held SMB’s main man, June Mar Fajardo, to just 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting in over 39 minutes of play.
On offense, Digregorio showed the way for the Elite, scoring the team’s last eight points and firing a season-high 26 points, including five treys, the last that gave them a 106-92 lead inside the last minute that was more than enough cushion to remove doubt from their impending upset victory.
The third-year gunner also dished out five assists, collected five boards, and committed just one turnover in 33 minutes on the court.
Erram pumped in 24 points, 18 rebounds, three blocks, three assists, two steals, and just one error, numbers that overshadowed that of Fajardo.
The Beermen wasted an early nine-point lead as they missed the services of injured standouts Alex Cabagnot and Gabby Espinas whenever they needed a run.
Arwind Santos led SMB with 22 points, built around five triples, nine boards, two assists, two steals, and two blocks, while Ross put up an all-around performance of 20 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal that went for naught.
BLACKWATER 106 — DiGregorio 26, Erram 24, Maliksi 11, Sena 10, Palma 8, Jose 6, Marcelo 6, Cortez 5, Cruz 5, Pinto 5, Neypes 0, Sumang 0.
SMB 96 — Santos 22, Ross 20, Lassiter 13, Fajardo 12, Lanete 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 8, Heruela 8, Agovida 2, Semerad 2, De Ocampo 0, Mamaril 0, Pessumal 0
Quarterscores: 20-27, 43-45, 72-69, 106-96