Blackwater coach Leo Isaac paid tribute to the Elite’s total team effort as the 2-year-old PBA franchise completed a 100-98 grind-out win over winless Star Hotshots in the main game of the PBA Governors Cup Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Six players scored in double figures led by starting center JP Erram, who finished with a team-high 16 points, along with a crucial block on Star forward Allein Maliksi’s 2-point attempt in the dying seconds.
“It was a good effort on our local guys like Poy Erram, Jerick Canada, Carlo Lastimos, Kyle Pascual, Bambam Gamalinda, Mike Cortez nung nasa bench si Eric Dawson,” Isaac told media men after the game.
More importantly, Isaac said the win could hopefully serve as a soothing balm for an Elite side that is slowly recovering from the death of veteran forward Gilbert Bulawan on July 3.
“Yes, it’s good to have this victory after all that has happened with our team especially with what happened to Gilbert Bulawan,” said Isaac, whose team held a jersey retirement ceremony last week during team’s conference-opening game against NLEX.
“Pakiramdam namin sa game namin nung Saturday against NLEX, medyo nagluluksa pa rin yung iba so we have to convince them na Gilbert is already resting in peace and masaya na siya sa kinalalagyan niya. Kaya nga we must go on and gawin lang namin ang dapat gawin,” he added.
Aiding Blackwater’s first win in 2 starts this conference was the early disqualification of Star import Marqus Blakely due to six fouls.
And though Blackwater import Eric Dawson had to deal with 5 fouls as well, the comebacking American managed to deliver the go-ahead layup, along with a crucial foul shot in the end to seal the win.
Canada and Dawson each scored 14, while Lastimosa added 12. Gamalinda and Pascual chipped in 10 points.
Meanwhile, Isaac hopes the return of Palestinian playmaker Imad Qahwash next Wednesday could add backcourt depth to the Elite.
Qashwash left last week for a pre-arranged basketball camp in China.
The six-foot Asian import is best remembered for playing a key role in Palestine’s shocking win over Gilas Pilipinas in last year’s Fiba-Asia men’s championships in Changsa, China.- Richard Dy