by Jonas Terrado
Blackwater locked up the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals while relegating Alaska to a playoff for the No. 8 spot after a 112-104 win in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ray Parks Jr. had 25 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals but it was Roi Sumang and Rabeh Al-Hussaini who made big shots in the final minutes to preserve the victory that gave the Elite a franchise-best 7-4 at the end of the elims.
Sumang produced 18 points, three rebounds and five assists and Al-Hussaini added 12 points for Blackwater, which will face the No. 6 seed in a best-of-three quarters that starts this weekend.
“The players were challenged to get this seventh win for the franchise and for ourselves,” said coach Aris Dimaunahan, who steered the franchise to its best conference in only his rookie stint.
“The thing is we want to keep the third seed in the playoffs and we wanna get a win before going into the playoffs so we can have some confidence against whoever we face,” he added.
Blackwater was clinging to a 106-104 lead when Parks found Al-Hussaini for a three-point shot that beat the shot clock before Sumang hit a pull-up jumper with under a minute remaining to make it 111-104 for the Elite.
The Elite pulled off the victory despite missing import Staphon Blair for most of the fourth due to an injury. He had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Alaska suffered its fifth straight defeat to end the eliminations at 4-7, giving Phoenix Pulse and Meralco another chance to make the playoffs.
Phoenix likewise ended the elims at 4-7 while Meralco needs to beat San Miguel Beer on Wednesday at the Big Dome to force a three-way tie.
Import Diamon Simpson had 24 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists for the Aces in a losing cause.
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.
Quarters: 27-32; 56-55; 80-78; 112-104.