MANILA, Philippines -- Rabeh Al-Hussaini was the beneficiary of a friendly bounce not once but twice in Blackwater Elite's crucial 112-104 triumph over the Alaska Aces on Sunday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
His three-pointer with 3:25 left in the second quarter hit the side of the rim and bounced high, before eventually dropping for a 50-49 Blackwater lead. His biggest shot, however, came with 1:18 to go in the contest, when he threw up a triple to beat the shot clock and saw it bounce up before rolling into the rim.
"Medyo mala-Kawhi nga eh," said Al-Hussaini, laughing as he referred to Kawhi Leonard's shot that sent the Toronto Raptors to the NBA Finals.
For Al-Hussaini, he was simply maximizing the opportunities given to him by coach Aris Dimaunahan.
"Just capitalizing the trust that Coach Aris is giving me, you know. So 'yun lang naman, one basket at a time," he said.
Moreover, it was proof that the work that Al-Hussaini put during the offseason was bearing fruit. The big man said he has worked on expanding his range, knowing that the game of basketball was evolving.
"Obviously, the game is changing, ngayon hindi na more of bigs. It's more perimeter-oriented, so I'm just trying to like, improve my game or invent, re-invent myself so at least maging helpful pa rin ako sa team ko," he explained.
Al-Hussaini finished with 12 points, having made 5 of his 10 field goals, including 2 of 4 three-pointers. The victory was Blackwater's seventh in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup, assuring them of the third spot in the quarterfinals.
That they entered the quarterfinals on a winning note was a big deal for the Elite, who tied a franchise-best with their seven wins in a conference. This is the highest seeding the team has ever gotten as well in their history.
"We really wanted to end the conference on a high note, so come Friday, Friday's game, medyo nasa maganda 'yung confidence ng team namin," said Al-Hussaini.
Blackwater's opponent in the quarterfinals has yet to be determined.
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