MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Blackwater Elite pulled away in the final minute for a 112-104 triumph over the Alaska Aces on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum, giving them the No. 3 seed in the playoffs of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
In a back-and-forth showdown that featured 13 ties and 22 lead changes, it was Blackwater that made the biggest plays in the closing stretch on both ends of the floor. Rabeh Al-Hussaini came through with a clutch three-pointer that gave the Elite a 109-104 lead with 1:18 left, and Roi Sumang put the finishing touches on the win.
The Elite finished the elimination round with a 7-4 win-loss record, and prevented the Aces from a securing a spot in the quarterfinals. Aside from Alaska, still in the hunt for the eighth and last playoff spot are Phoenix and Meralco.
"The players are being challenged, since three days ago, to get this win for the franchise and for ourselves," said Blackwater coach Aris Dimaunahan. "We challenged the guys to keep the third seed coming into the playoffs. "
"We want to get a win coming to the playoffs, para meron kaming kumpyansa whoever we play," he added.
Ray Parks finished with an all-around performance of 25 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals, while Sumang had 18 points. Import Staphon Blair came up with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Al-Hussaini finished with 12 markers in the win.
The game was tied at 93 with 6:53 to go after a split at the line by Allein Maliksi, but he gave Blackwater the lead for good with a bucket a possession later. The Elite led by six points, 102-96, off a triple by Sumang with 3:42 to go.
A three-pointer by Simon Enciso and a lay-up by Jeron Teng cut the deficit to one point, 102-101, with under three minutes to go, but Sumang nailed another jumper to restore a three-point cushion. Teng responded with a jumper of his own to again make it a one-point game, 104-103, with 2:13 left. Parks's bucket with 1:57 to go made it 106-103, before Sonny Thoss nailed one of two free throws for a 106-104 count with 1:45 left.
The Aces looked as though they had gotten a stop in the next possession, only for Al-Hussaini to throw up a prayer of a three-pointer that got a friendly bounce before dropping in, beating the shot-clock buzzer. That gave Blackwater a 109-104 lead, and took the wind out of Alaska's sails.
A jump shot by Sumang in their next possession made it 111-104 with under a minute to go, effectively serving as the dagger for Blackwater.
Squandered in the loss was a 24-point, 16-rebound effort by Alaska import Diamon Simpson, who kept the Aces in the game early in the fourth period. Chris Banchero added 18 points, while Thoss and Vic Manuel each scored 15 markers.
Despite their loss, the Aces are assured of a playoff for the eighth and last spot in the quarterfinals.
Blackwater 112 - Parks 25, Sumang 18, Maliksi 15, Blair 14, Belo 13, Al-Hussaini 12, Digregorio 6, Desiderio 4, Cortez 3, Sena 2, Alolino 0.
Alaska 104 - Simpson 24, Banchero 18, Thoss 15, Manuel 15, Teng 11, Enciso 9, Casio 6, Racal 4, Pascual 2, Exciminiano 0, Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 27-32, 56-55, 80-78, 112-104
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