By Jonas Terrado
Blackwater avoided another collapse this time to outlast Rain or Shine, 100-96, and force a deciding third game in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Greg Smith’s jumper with 44.7 seconds left put the Elite up 97-93, virtually sealing the win after the Elasto Painters tried multiple times to tie or take the lead in the fourth quarter.
Smith posted 31 points and 18 rebounds while rookie Ray Parks Jr. scored 28 points before fouling out as Blackwater forged a do-or-die match set Thursday at the same venue.
The winner of the 7 p.m. game will advance to a best-of-five semis encounter against NorthPort or San Miguel Beer. The two teams dispute a place in the next round Wednesday afternoon at the Big Dome.
Coach Aries Dimaunahan commended his team for being able to close out the match, which Blackwater failed to do so in Saturday’s opener when it lost an eight-point lead in the final 92 seconds to fall, 83-80.
“I have to give it to the players who played really, really well. They refused to lose at ayaw pa namin magbakasyon,” said Blackwater coach Aries Dimaunahan.
Rookie Javee Mocon scored a season-high 25 points while grabbing 15 rebounds but the Elasto Painters failed to close out the series despite keeping it close for most of the contest.
Rain or Shine led for the last time at 84-83 on Mark Borboran’s layup, 5:47 to go. But Smith hit four straight free throws and Mike DiGregorio knocked down a triple for 90-84 with over four minutes remaining.
Two Borboran free throws going into the final minute cut Rain or Shine’s lead to two, 93-91, until Smith answered with a key jumper off Carl Montgomery to make it a four-point game.
BLACKWATER 100 — Smith 31, Parks 28, Belo 14, Digregorio 13, Sena 4, Maliksi 3, Javier 3, Desiderio 2, Cortez 2, Sumang 0, Al-Hussaini 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 96 — Mocon 25, Borboran 13, Belga 13, Alejandro 12, Montgomery 11, Rosales 10, Nambatac 9, Ponferada 2, Onwubere 1, Norwood 0.
Quarters: 24-15; 38-35; 68-64; 100-96.