Roi Sumang played like as if he had one of his best games in college as Blackwater boosted its playoff bid with a 103-100 victory over Alaska last night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Responding to the challenge of coach Leo Isaac, the former University of the East star scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter that saw the Elite take a 14-point lead before weathering a last-ditch comeback by the Aces to snap a two-game losing skid.
Mac Belo recovered from the worst game of his early pro career against San Miguel by leading the scoring chart with 21 points even as veteran guard Ronjay Buenafe fired nine of his 16 points in the third for Blackwater, which improved to 5-4.
The Elite can move into fourth place if the TNT KaTropa lose to the Star Hotshots in their game being played at presstime. The KaTropa entered the game with a 4-3 record, needing a win to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and Globalport Batang Pier for second to fourth.
Isaac’s rule of “sticking to the player who performs well” benefited Sumang, who since being drafted last season by Globalport hasn’t quite lived up to the talents that he developed when he played for UE from 2011 to 2014.
“He’s Roi Sumang and alam naman natin ang pwede niyang gawin if we can backtrack on his collegiate days at UE,” said Isaac. “Tsempo-tsempo lang. Nards Pinto was not playing well, we had him in. We rested him, we had Denok Miranda in, Ael Banal was not playing well so he got rewarded for playing well.
“So we’re still sticking to our rule of whoever performs well gets rewarded with extra minutes. And true to his performance, he was able to showcase his talent,” said Isaac.
Sumang was part of a huge binge by Blackwater in the upper half of the fourth when it took a 92-78 lead on Raymund Aguilar’s contested three with 5:47 left.
But the Aces, who dropped to 4-4, unleashed a comeback with Calvin Abueva trimming the margin to 92-89 on two free throws with 2:43 left in the fourth.
Belo answered with a triple and Sumang scored a three-point play to make it 98-91 with 1:21 left, only to see Alaska scored five straight in a matter of 10 seconds, with Abueva capping off that run.
Blackwater made five of six free throws down the stretch, with Sumang hitting three, before Abueva missed a corner trey at the buzzer.
The Elite won after trailing for most of the first half. Buenafe’s hot streak in the third allowed them to take the lead at 62-61 on his three-pointer before entering the fourth ahead 76-71.
BLACKWATER 103 – Belo 21, Sumang 19, Buenafe 16, De la Cruz 13, Aguilar 10, Sena 8, Cervantes 6, Miranda 4, Pinto 4, Ababou 2, Banal 0, Gamalinda 0, Pascual 0.
ALASKA 100 – Abueva 23, Casio 23, Manuel 13, Racal 9, Mendoza 7, Exciminiano 6, Hontiveros 6, Cruz 4, Jazul 4, Pascual 2, Thoss 2, De la Cruz 1.
Quarters: 22-28; 45-49; 76-71; 103-100.
STAR 88 – Sangalang 14, Maliksi 13, Ramos 13, Lee 10, Jalalon 9, Barroca 8, Pingris 7, Reavis 5, De la Rosa 4, Melton 3, Simon 2, Brondial 0.
TNT 77 – De Ocampo 21, Castro 16, Pogoy 7, Rosario 7, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, Tautuaa 6, Rosales 4, Williams 4, Fonacier 3, Reyes 3, Carey 0, Golla 0.
Quarters: 20-12; 56-39; 73-62; 88-77.