More than the franchise record, Leo Isaac knows exactly what Blackwater’s third straight win in the PBA Governors’ Cup could be all about.
“We will cherish this win, definitely,” Isaac said after his hard-fighting Elite went through the proverbial eye of the needle before repulsing Alaska, 111-106, in double overtime on Wednesday night that put Blackwater in serious playoff contention at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
“But I hope that it would push us more (to play harder) and elevate us to the next level,” he said as the Elite shoot to make it past the eliminations for just the second time in three seasons in the pros. “This win is special.”
Blackwater won three consecutive games for the first time in its PBA existence and the team has never looked this good at any time, rising to 3-3 to be in the middle of the 12-team pack.
Alaska, on the other hand, has never looked this bad as the Aces’ woes continued with the franchise’s longest losing streak stretching to 13 games now counting the last eight games of the Commissioner’s Cup.
And it was as if the Aces didn’t have any chances. They had several, actually.
“We had the presence of mind, the character needed to survive those two overtimes,” Isaac said. “And Lady Luck also smiled at us in the end.”
Henry Walker had a monster game, to say the least, finishing with 35 points and 32 rebounds as he continues to provide the Elite with the inspiration, leadership and firepower when they need it in the stretch.
Only the pint-sized Mark Cruz failed to finish in twin digits in scoring from among Isaac’s starters, with Walker, the comebacking JP Erram and Bam-Bam Gamalinda completing double-doubles and shooting guard Mike DiGregorio finishing with 17 points.
DiGregorio’s third triple with 63 seconds left was his biggest shot of the night as it ushered the Elite to a 107-106 lead they never lost as the Aces bungled several chances to turn the game around.
It was an ending that looked far from happening as the Elite were playing with complete command until the final six minutes of regulation.
“It was really hard. You can never get an easy win in this league,” Isaac said. “We thought that we would have an easy ending (to the game) going into the last six minutes when Alaska made a charge.”
The Aces rallied from deficits of as large as 11 points in the fourth and had a chance to sew it all up in regulation only for Simon Enciso to miss an open triple from right quarter court at the buzzer which would have shattered a 91-all tie.
LeDontae Henton scored 31 points to pace the Aces, but he missed two straight shots after that DiGregorio triple to help doom Alaska.
Gamalinda fired 15 points and had 11 rebounds with Erram contributing 13 and 13.
The next Blackwater game will be against TNT KaTropa on Wednesday and Isaac is hoping to keep this streak going to creep closer to the next round.