TIM Cone considered Blackwater one of the up and coming teams in the PBA.
The Elite validated the Barangay Ginebra bench tactician’s compliment by turning back the Gin Kings, 94-77, in a huge upset in the PBA Philippine Cup late Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“They are truly one of the up and coming teams in the league. They are building their team the right way,” said Cone prior to their meeting with the Elite.
In putting one over on the reigning Governors’ Cup champion, the Elite put the focus of their defense on Ginebra’s big men, notably Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter, while also pressuring the team’s other gunners.
The strategy paid off as the Elite became the first to beat the mighty Gin Kings in the tournament.
The Elite went up into a tie for second to sixth places in the standings among Phoenix, Gin Kings, NLEX, and Magnolia Hotshots. All of them are now sporting 2-1 slates behind 2-0 San Miguel Beer.
“Ang ganda ng finish namin sa 2017, at ang ganda ng simula namin sa 2018, sana ma-maintain namin,” said Poy Erram, who stood at the forefront of the Blackwater’s 17-point conquest of the league’s most popular ballclub.
The young 6-foot-7 center held his own against Slaughter and Aguilar, coming through with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, in leading Blackwater to a second straight win following their 92-87 victory over Rain or Shine on Dec. 29.
“Malaking bagay ang panalong ito. Tataas ang confidence ng mga players at lahat kami as a team,” Erram said.
With confidence and determination, the Elite ended the Kings’ unbeaten run in the tourney and handed them their first defeat since their 2017 Governors Cup title run.
“We just followed coach Leo Isaac’s game plan. We stuck with the system and we played with unlimited effort,” said Erram.
Mac Belo and Allein Maliksi were also solid in their games, with the former chipping in 22 and the latter 17 points.
Blackwater (94) – Erram 22, Belo 22, Maliksi 17, Jose 8, Digregorio 8, Sena 7, Cortez 4, Palma 4, Marcelo 2, Pinto 0, Cruz 0, Sumang 0.
Ginebra ( 77) – Slaughter 20, Tenorio 16, Aguilar 14, Thompson 12, Cruz 4, Taha 4, Caguioa 3, Ferrer 2, Mariano 2, Wilson 0, R. Aguilar 0.
Quarterscores: 19-19, 41-33, 64-61, 94-77.