Mac Belo announced he is fully back to lethal form with 25 points and got plenty of help as the Elite squeaked past the Elasto Painters 92-87 Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
It was the first win by Blackwater over Rain or Shine in 12 meetings and also the Dioceldo Sy-owned franchise's first in 11 visits to the bayside venue. BLACKWATER's tales of woe against Rain or Shine and fruitless stints in a Pasay City venue are now over.
The victory also made up for the Elite's 98-103 loss to Meralco last Friday and enabled them to end the year on a high note.
"Our defense had to hold against the firepower of ROS, and indeed, we were able to sustain the defense we wanted," said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac, himself 0-for-18 at the Astrodome.
All made possible by Belo, sidelined for most of last season by a knee injury, adding seven rebounds to his performance and featured an electrifying stretch run that saw him string up seven points to push Blackwater up, 90-85.
Rain or Shine had the chance to at least catch up and more so when Ed Daquioag canned two charities that cut the difference to just three points and Gabe Norwood stole off Mike Digregorio.
But in his haste, Norwood turned the ball over and Digregorio atoned by sinking his own freebies that gave him 23 points for the game while making it a safe 92-87 count, only 11.6 ticks left.
"We hope this win before the New Year will boost our campaign," stated Isaac, whose team now takes a two-week break before plunging back into action against Barangay Ginebra on Jan. 12.
Isaac sure would savor the fine performance by his team in the welcome respite.
Reymar Jose continued his fine performance with 12 points and eight boards while Allein Maliksi came off the bench 10 points, as many rebounds and five assists.
JP Erram suffered a nasty fall that forced him to sit out some six minutes of the fourth quarter but returned to finish with eight points and 14 caroms, helping Blackwater come out on top in a game marked by 10 deadlocks and 17 lead changes.
Chris Tiu's 14 points were enough to pace Rain or Shine, which also got at least 10 points from Norwood, Daquioag and Raymond Almazan, with the latter also winding up with 11 boards.
Dexter Maiquez came off the bench only in the third period and chipped in all of his eight points to help the E-Painters move within 64-65, going to the final canto.
Mark Borboran's follow up even gave Rain or Shine its last taste of the lead at 79-77, but Jose's layup, Maliksi's putback and Digregorio's long corner two moved Blackwater ahead, 83-79, before Belo took over.
Blackwater 92 - Belo 25, Digregorio 23, Jose 13, Maliksi 10, Erram 8, Pinto 7, Sumang 5, Sena 2, Marcelo 0.
Rain or Shine 87 - Tiu 14, Norwood 13, Daquioag 13, Almazan 10, Maiquez 8, Belga 7, Borboran 6, Yap 5, Trollano 4, King 3, Ponferada 2, Nambatac 2.
Quarters: 25-28, 47-44, 65-64, 92-87.