Belo, Miranda tow Blackwater past Meralco to 2-0 start
MANILA, Philippines – Two ex-Tamaraws in Mac Belo and Denok Miranda conspired to deal the Meralco Bolts their first loss of the season as the Blackwater Elite escaped with an 86-84 victory in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday, November 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The rookie Belo exploded for 21 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 25 on top of 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and two blocks. Last UAAP season's Finals MVP buried the game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key, 84-all.
The 34-year-old Miranda, who graduated from Far Eastern University in 2005, then finished the job with the difficult game-winning drive that broke the deadlock and set the final tally with 3.8 seconds remaining. Miranda finished with 11 points and 7 assists off the bench.
With the win, Blackwater is now off to a 2-0 start, the franchise's first such start in any conference.
"In this game against Meralco we have to show some character, we have to show that we are the team that we want to be. Challenged by Meralco all the way," said head coach Leo Isaac.
"Good enough Denok Miranda was able to hit the difficult drive, and Mac Belo was there for his crunch (time) plays and defensively. It's a good start for Blackwater."
Kyle Pascual chipped in 13 points and 4 rebounds while Art Dela Cruz had 8 markers.
"Slowly you can see some glitter with our team. Hopefully it develops to its full potential," Isaac added. "The last play was an option for anybody. The other 4 guys could have taken the shot."
Belo also became the third rookie, and the first since Paul Lee, to be named Best Player of the Game in his first two outings.
"All he has to do is stay disciplined, follow instructions from the coaches and he will be the player he is projected to be," Isaac said of Belo, who was selected in the special Gilas draft.
Cliff Hodge topped Meralco with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists. Rookie Jonathan Grey and last season's Rookie of the Year Chris Newsome each had 11 points. Newsome also added 9 rebounds.
Blackwater (86): Belo 25, Pascual 13, Miranda 11, Dela Cruz 8, Sena 6, Pinto 5, Aguilar 5, Cervantes 5, Forrester 3, Ababou 3, Gamalinda 2, Banal 0, Buenafe 0.
Meralco (84): Hodge 14, Grey 11, Newsome 11, Al-Hussaini 9, Amer 8, Daquioag 6, Hugnatan 6, Yeo 5, Chua 4, Faundo 4, Nabong 4, Dillinger 2.
Quarter scores: 22-27, 39-41, 68-67, 86-84.