September 28, 2017

After saving its season, Blackwater determined to take Meralco out

The last seed upending the top seed has happened in the PBA playoffs before - not just once, not just twice but thrice.

The stats, however, are the least of the concerns of both the Meralco Bolts and the Blackwater Elite. They're focused on survival as they slug it out in a knockout setto for a spot in the PBA Governors Cup Final Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Thursday.

Just one of them is to further their breakthrough in the tourney as they face off in a lone match at 7 p.m.

Meralco is a playoff top seed for the first time in franchise history but now faces a do-or-die situation after a 91-92 loss to Blackwater Tuesday night at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

Blackwater, meanwhile, is in its first playoff appearance in an import-flavored tourney. With their nail-biter of a win Tuesday, the Elite now have a shot at advancing all the way to the Final Four.

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Allen Durham said they have to play the game that carried them to the elims top finish, stressing Blackwater is not an easy rival.

Henry Walker, meanwhile, said they have to be ready as they have awakened "a monster."

"We just poked the bear. And if you're from the country like I am, you've gotta be ready what happens when the bear turns around," Walked said.

Walker fired 18 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter while Roi Sumang and Allein Maliksi came through with huge plays at the finish as Blackwater stunned top seed Meralco in the playoff opener.

Playing only his third game with the Ever Bilena franchise, Maliksi delivered the winning basket as the Elite scored a first post-elims victory since joining the local pro league in 2014.

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The Bolts, the elims top-notchers with a 9-2 win-loss slate, came out a bit sluggishly in their second game in 48 hours and subsequently dropped their first crack at the best-of-five semifinals.

Meralco coach Norman Black, however, refused to blame fatigue.

"At this point of the conference, you have no right to be tired. Everybody is trying to fight for survival and stay alive," he said. "If you want to play another day, then you've got to get over the tiredness very quickly and go out and play."