by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs Columbian
6:45 p.m. – San Miguel vs Alaska
Paul Zamar continued his rise into a pivotal player for the Blackwater Elite after knocking down a three-point shot in the dying seconds to beat the Meralco Bolts, 94-91, last night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Zamar’s three with 7.9 seconds left broke a 91-all tie as the Elite completed their comeback from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit and claim their fifth win in six games, tying the idle Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok.
Meralco tried to go for a game-tying three on the next play, but import Allen Durham looked like he had lost count on the score and went a two-pointer as time expired.
The Bolts, who are coming off a fourth place showing in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Nonthaburi, Thailand, fell to 1-4 after suffering their fourth straight defeat.
Zamar finished with 13 points, continuing his strong play this conference where he is averaging 10.3 points on 49-percent shooting.
The former University of the East was a low-key signing by Blackwater in the Commissioner’s Cup after a strong showing for Mono Vampire in the ASEAN Basketball League. So far, Zamar has taken advantage of fulfilling his PBA dream.
Coach Bong Ramos elected to go to Zamar in the final minutes over Mike DiGregorio, who only had two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
The move eventually paid off down the stretch as Blackwater survived a 74-64 deficit behind the hot-shooting of Baser Amer and rarely-used Ken Bono.
“Galing ng mga players ko tonight,” said Ramos.
Mac Belo quietly stepped up for the Elite with 14 points, including a three with 57.9 seconds to go that put Blackwater up 91-88.
Durham hit made three of his four free throws in the next three possessions that enabled the Bolts to tie the count at 91-all, but Meralco was left dejected when Zamar went for the win.
Durham finished with 32 points, 21 rebounds and six assists, Amer had 14 points and Bono revived memories of his UAAP days with Adamson by scoring all 10 points in the fourth.
Their efforts, however, were not enough.