by Jonas Terrado
Blackwater revived its fading quarterfinal hopes alive by humbling Columbian, 106-100, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Elite got 29 points from leading scorer Allein Maliksi while getting unlilkely lifts from Mac Belo and the returning Rabeh Al-Hussaini to snap a four-game skid and improve to 2-6 in the season-opening conference.
Belo had 22 points and nine rebounds and Al-Hussaini, who went AWOL prior to the start of the tourney, made 11 points in 18 minutes.
Coach Bong Ramos’ squad denied the Dyip a chance at scoring another victory after stunning the Meralco Bolts, 86-85, last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Columbian guard Rashawn McCarthy even said after that win that their meeting with Blackwater was a “winnable game.”
“Likewise,” Ramos said when asked of McCarthy’s comments. “Match-up wise we feel that we have a chance as long as they trust our system. I’m happy to get this win.”
Blackwater’s chances on sneaking a playoff berth rests on its remaining games against TNT KaTropa on March 9, NLEX on March 17 and Magnolia on March 22.
The Dyip fell to 3-5 but remain inside the top eight in the standings.
But Columbian would rather be on the opposite end of the spectrum as a win would have enhanced the Dyip’s chance of securing a first quarters berth since the 2016 Governors’ Cup.
Making things more difficult for Columbian is that its remaining assignments are opposite Rain or Shine (March 6), Magnolia (March 13) and TNT (March 22).
Rookie CJ Perez scored 22 points with eight rebounds while McCarthy drained 18 points after going for a career-high 30 against Meralco.
Meantime, Paul Lee and Mark Barroca resume their duties following a successful national team stint as Magnolia seeks to end a winless start against Meralco at the Xavier University Gym in Cagayan de Oro City.
The Hotshots are banking on the confidence Lee and Barroca gained in helping Gilas Pilipinas secure qualification to the FIBA World Cup when they battle the Bolts in the 5 p.m. Petron Saturday Special affair.
Magnolia is on its worst start since coach Chito Victolero took charge in 2016 after losses to TNT KaTropa, San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine.
Blackwater 106 – Maliksi 29, Belo 22, Deaiderio 12, Sumang 11, Al-Hussaini 11, Javier 6, Banal 5, Sena 4, Digregorio 4, Jose 1, Tratter 1, Cortez 0, Alolino 0.
Columbian 100 – Perez 22, McCarthy 18, Khobuntin 17, Camson 13, Escoto 7, Corpuz 7, Calvo 5, Faundo 3, Cabrera 3, Agovida 2, Cahilig 0.