MANILA, Philippines — Allein Maliksi announced his presence with a solid performance that fired up his new Blackwater teammates and powered the Elite to an inspiring 118-107 victory over GlobalPort Batang Pier to complete the Last Eight in the PBA Governors Cup last night at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.
The Elite played notches above their regular game on the entry of Maliksi, outshooting a GlobalPort side which took a big blow with the ejection of top gun Terrence Romeo on a flagrant infraction midway through the second quarter.
Blackwater stormed to a 21-point spread in the third period and fended off GlobalPort’s late charge to seal a playoff entry with a fifth win in 10 outings.
It’s a major breakthrough for the Dioceldo Sy-owned ballclub, which never made it past the elims stage of any import-reinforced tourney in its first three years in the local pro league.
“The pre-game instruction was to make it simple, avoid complications of a tie for the last quarters spot. We did avoid that with the win that automatically put us in the playoffs,” said coach Leo Isaac after steering the Elite to a second playoff entry after their first quarters passage in the 2016 Philippine Cup.
“Now we’re looking forward to our last game against Rain or Shine. We’ll try to further improve our standing. Our goal is to win as many games in the elims. We’ll play our very best even if we’re already assured of a quarters spot,” Isaac added.
Blackwater (5-5) thus joined early qualifiers Barangay Ginebra, Meralco, NLEX, TNT KaTropa, San Miguel, Star and Rain or Shine in the knockout stage. Relegated to the sidelines are GlobalPort (3-7), Alaska Milk (3-7), Phoenix Petroleum (2-8) and Kia (0-10).
Romeo sat helpless in the pressroom in the last 30 minutes of the game after he was thrown out for throwing the ball at Blackwater import Henry Walker.
“We’re down by 11 then and I thought he gave me a cheap shot. Frustration got the best of me,” said Romeo.
“(Romeo’s exit) was a big key. Romeo was on our radar as he’s averaging 20 points a game. When he’s ejected, he had already made 13. Imagine if he didn’t commit the flagrant. He would’ve been a big problem for us,” said Isaac.
The Elite drew double-digit outputs from Maliksi and five other players in Roi Sumang (21), Henry Walker (19), Mike Digregorio (16), Dave Marcelo (13) and Poy Erram (11).
Maliksi, a new trade recruit from the Star Hotshots, top scored with 22 points, including two three-pointers and 6-of-7 charities.
Glen Rice Jr. scored the last six points to cap his sterling near triple-double performance as TNT KaTropa outlasted Star in a battle down the stretch, 104-99, to tie NLEX at third place.
“We knew going to our last four games that it’s gonna be a tough stretch for us. We’re going up and down, but the most important thing is we’re finding ways to win,” said TNT coach Nash Racela.
Rice gave the Texters a big lift with 43 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists.
BLACKWATER 118 – Maliksi 22, Sumang 21, Walker 19, Digregorio 16, Marcelo 13, Erram 11, Belo 8, Pinto 8, Canaleta 0, Cruz 0.
GLOBALPORT 107 – Holloway 28, Pringle 27, Romeo 13, Baracael 11, Anthony 8, Guinto 6, Cortez 6, Arana 4, Cardona 4, Hubalde 0, Mamaril 0.
TNT 104 – Rice Jr. 43, Castro 12, Pogoy 12, Rosario 12, Williams 8, Semerad 7, Reyes 6, Tautuaa 4, Lingganay 0, Carey 0.
STAR 99 – Acox 18, Lee 17, Sangalang 17, Jalalon 13, Ramos 11, Pingris 8, Reavis 6, Dela Rosa 4, Barroca 3, Melton 2, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0.