FOR A while, Blackwater couldn’t do anything right.
But when push came to shove, the Elite had all the answers.
Led by NBA veteran Henry Walker and John Pinto, the Elite battled back from the depth of an early 18-point deficit to escape with a hard-earned 113-111 win over NorthPort in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Walker finished with 24 points and 15 rebounds while Pinto added eight points, seven rebounds and a game-high 13 assists in leading Blackwater to a a share of the top spot with defending champion Barangay Ginebra.
“It’s a hard-earned win,” said Blackwater coach Bong Ramos. “But it’s a test of character for the team. They really wanted to get that third win tonight.”
Blackwater’s 3-0 start was also the best in franchise history.
But it did not come easy.
Walker and Pinto delivered the dagger three-point shots that completely turned the game around for Blackwater.
Walker’s fifth triple for the night shattered the game’s last deadlock at 99-all and put Blackwater ahead for good, 102-99 with 3:58 remaining.
The biggest one, however, came from Pinto, whose three-pointer with 31 seconds left gave the Elite a 111-105 lead after Stanley Pringle’s floating jumper made it 105-108.
For NorthPort and coach Pido Jarencio, the loss was another bitter pill to shallow.
The Batang Pier led 53-35, but they couldn’t close the game out and dropped to 0-5 win-loss despite another monster 31-point, 17-rebound effort of import Rashad Woods.
Pringle, who played his second game with the Batang Pier after a stint with the PBA-backed Philippine team in the Asian Games and the FIBA 2019 World Cup qualifiers, added 18 points, while Sean Anthony, who also returned to the line-up after a brief absence due to injury, had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Woods opened the game with a triple and Pringle had seven straight points as the Batang Pier raced to 39-23 lead after the first period.
But the Elite finally hit their strides and outscored the Batang Pier, 33-20, in the seocnd quarter , to to make the game close and interesting.
Blackwater (113) -- Walker 24, DiGregorio 19, Erram 19, Belo 13, Sumang 9, Pinto 8, Zamar 6, Palma 4, Javier 4, Al-Hussaini 3, Maliksi 2, Jose 2.
NorthPort (111) -- Woods 31, Pringle 18, Anthony 13, Elorde 12, Araña 9, Tautuaa 8, Taha 6, Grey 5, Guinto 4, Fortuna 3, Espinas 2, Gabayni 0.
Quarterscores: 23-39, 56-59, 79-87, 113-111.