Junior Powerade downs favored Blackwater in D-League return

University of the Philippines guard Mikee Reyes scored 13 points in the final quarter as the Fighting Maroons-led Junior Powerade Tigers stunned Blackwater Sports, 84-79, Tuesday in an auspicious debut in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Fil Oil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.

Reyes tied a team-high 18 points and helped build the Tigers’ comeback trail in the final period. He started with a go-ahead triple from the right corner breaking a 62-all deadlock in the 8:24 mark and the Tigers never relinquished the lead.

It was a big win for the returning Tigers, with their core of Fighting Maroons using the conference as preparation for the coming UAAP wars. The team didn’t join the Aspirants Cup early this year.

“We realized that Blackwater is one of the contenders this conference so it’s a big confidence booster for us. We were concerned that we only had eight players in practice because of injuries. But we were ready to play undermanned,” said Junior Powerade coach Ricky Dandan.

Claude Cubo, a recruit from Cobra Energy Drink, added 18 points and nine rebounds while Mike Silungan chipped in 16 points. Alvin Padilla had 11 points.

But Reyes stole the show. Playing despite a shoulder injury, Reyes had five points in a 7-0 run to close out the game. He hit two free throws as the Tigers got ahead, 83-72, with 58.2 seconds on the clock.

“Two years na siyang nasa bench dahil sa injury niya. Gusto na talaga maglaro ng bata,” said Dandan.

Kelly Nabong led the Elite with 17 points and 14 rebounds as they fell to 1-1 in the team standings.

The Elite had a series of six-point gaps during the first three quarters but they weren’t able to keep the pesky Tigers away.

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