Blackwater survived a late fightback by an import-less Alaska team, 107-101, Friday in the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena for its first back-to-back win in franchise history.
The youngest import in town proved he belonged as MJ Rhett churned out a triple-double leading the Elite with 18 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists while adding one steal and two shot blocks in his best game yet in the PBA.
The Elite were about to cruise to the victory with a 13-point lead, 101-88, with 4:11 remaining. But the Aces, whose import Rob Dozier sat out with a minor injury, dared one last push embarking on a 13-4 run that cut the deficit to just four, 105-101, with 55 seconds left.
Blackwater had a lucky break when Jvee Casio missed a wide-open three-pointer. Then Carlo Lastimosa sealed the Elite’s first ever win against the Aces with two free throws.
“We just have to continue on. Teams will definitely be preparing for us after this win. We just have to rise to the occasion,” Blackwater coach Leo Isaac said.
Five locals hit in double figures for Blackwater with Lastimosa and Reil Cervantes firing 24 and 21 points, respectively. PJ Erram, meanwhile, did a remarkable job on the defensive end in his comeback after his bad fall in their opening game finishing with seven boards, three steals and five blocks.
The Aces were led by Vic Manuel’s 20 points followed by Sonny Thoss’ 18.
Alaska has now lost five in a row dating back to the Philippine Cup Finals after squandering a 3-0 series lead.