Blackwater in command

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Blackwater in command
James Kwekuteye of Blackwater is sandwiched by TNT defenders.
PBA Image

MANILA, Philippines — With RK Ilagan and Troy Rosario leading a collective effort, the Bossing claimed the scalp of TNT, 87-76, to grab the PBA Philippine Cup lead yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ilagan scattered 15 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and two steals while Rosario topscored with 20 as Jeff Cariaso’s charges rose to the occasion following the early exit of Nambatac (sprained right ankle) and chalked up a follow-up to their 96-93 upset of Meralco two days before.

Christian David (13), Bradwyn Guinto (nine), James Kwekuteye (nine) and debuting trade acquisition Jaydee Tungcab (five assists, four rebounds and two steals) similarly answered Blackwater’s call.

“Tonight was really a team effort. I don’t use that loosely because it’s really a necessity. When you play a big team like TNT, or every team in the league for that matter, there needs to be that sense of purpose. And what makes us happy is that in the first two games, the players displayed that,” said Cariaso.

Such purpose-driven approach empowered Cariaso and Co. to produce Blackwater’s best start since a similar 2-0 opening in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.

Moreover, it enabled the Bossing to surpass their one-win output in the previous conference two matches into the conference.

For Ilagan, it was a personal bounce back from his scoreless stint in the earlier reversal over Meralco, where Nambatac sizzled with 30 markers and 10 assists.

“Sa tulong ‘yan ng mga coaches at si Kuya JVee (Casio), kasi sinabihan niya ako na I need to step up kasi mahihirapan si Kuya Rey bumalik. Ginawa ko lang ang role ko, ‘yun, nakuha namin ang panalo,” said Ilagan, the main step-up guy with Nambatac leaving with one rebound and one assist after twisting his ankle in 5:02 of action. 

Ilagan, Guinto and Rosario joined forces in a 13-0 blast that lifted Blackwater to an 85-65 tear in the fourth canto.

Calvin Oftana showed the way with 21 for the Tropang Giga, who fell to their second straight defeat.

Meanwhile, NLEX (1-0) and Terrafirma (1-0) collide for a share of the lead in their 3 p.m. match today also at the Big Dome.

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