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PBA: Blackwater outlasts Phoenix for 1st win

By Jonas Terrado

Games Sunday (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Kia vs Rain or Shine
6:45 p.m. – NLEX vs Meralco

Returning import Henry Walker scored 32 points in his latest tour of duty as Blackwater finally ended a winless start by defeating Phoenix, 92-86, last night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Blackwater's Michael DiGregorio  (MB photo |  JAY GANZON)

Blackwater’s Michael DiGregorio (MB photo | JAY GANZON)

Walker, making his third PBA stint after replacing the injured Trevis Simpson, overcame cramps in the fourth by knocking down big shots in the final 2:24 while calling on his teammates to follow his lead to give the Elite their first victory after a 0-3 start in the season-ending conference.

Michael DiGregorio heeded the call of the former Alaska and NLEX reinforcement, pumping in a career-high 28 points, including a pair of jumpers in a 6-0 run that allowed Blackwater to take an 84-80 lead and setting the stage for Walker’s heroics.

“You just got to believe that you can go out there and compete, man,” Walker said in an impassioned postgame interview by league broadcaster, Sports5. “That’s what the guys did, and I’m no good if the guys around me don’t come and perform, it doesn’t matter what I do.”

“He was challenging the locals to take charge because he was complaining of not being able to move properly, and he was shouting at his teammates inside the court, take the shot, play defense,” said Elite coach Leo Isaac after Walker’s legs cramped up early in the fourth.

Phoenix suffered its third straight loss after a 2-0 start after having to overcome a 59-49 deficit in the third and taking an 80-78 lead on Mark Borboran’s triple with 5:49 to go in the fourth.

But DiGregorio and Walker made the timely shots, including the latter’s basket with over 30 seconds left that made it 88-84, to finally put the Elite in the win column.

Walker also made up for an errant three by grabbing Phoenix reinforcement Eugene Phelps’ missed layup that would have tied the score at 88-all, hitting two clutch free throws to give Blackwater the needed cushion.

Phelps and RJ Jazul scored 13 points each for Phoenix, but combined to miss 14-of-23 shots.

First Game
BLACKWATER 92 – Walker 32, Digregorio 28, Gamalinda 9, Canaleta 5, Aguilar 5, Erram 4, Cruz 3, Miranda 3, Sumang 3, Belo 0, Banal 0, Cervantes 0, Sena 0, Pascual 0.

PHOENIX 86 – Phelps 13, Jazul 13, Borboran 12, W. Wilson 11, Alolino 10, Baguio 8, Intal 8, Eriobu 7, Dehesa 2, Kramer 2, Lanete 0, J. Wilson 0.

Quarters: 23-32, 51-47, 66-66, 92-86.

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