NLEX Road Warriors kept alive their flickering hopes of advancing to the Quarterfinals of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup with a surprising rout of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Better conditioned NLEX started strong then finished stronger to post a wire-to-wire 94-74 victory over the Elasto Painters yesterday, Wednesday, Nov. 4, at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena & Cultural Center Powered by Smart 5G.
“We’re just getting in better shape. Nung umpisa, we were not in good shape and our defense was lousy. But the last few games, yung fitness namin translated sa extra energy sa defense,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
With the victory Road Warriors (3 wins, 5 losses) climbed into 8th place in the standings. The top 8 teams after the Eliminations advance to the Quarterfinals while the other 4 teams are eliminated.
In the second game Meralco Bolts hung on the coattails of veteran Reynel Hugnatan, who turned 42 two days ago, to bounce back from a loss and survive the challenge of Blackwater with an 89-85 win. The Bolts inched into 6th place with the victory.
Hugnatan finished with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal to win Player of the Game honors.
Leading the standings are TNT Tropang Giga (5-1), Rain or Shine (4-2), San Miguel Beermen (5-2), Barangay Ginebra (5-2), Phoenix Super LPG (5-3). Meralco (4-3), Alaska Aces (5-4) and NLEX (3-5).
The other teams include Blackwater (2-5), Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok (2-4), NorthPort Batang Pier (1-4) and Terrafirma Dyip (0-6).
Key to NLEX victory was pressure, or the lack thereof. Guiao said he wanted a more relaxed team and took pressure off his players.
“Sabi ko ang gusto lang natin gawin is parang nasa training camp tayo. Magpakundisyon. Learn every day. If we’re doing it right, we’ll win. If we’re doing it wrong, we’ll just go back to practice and correct them. So ayun, parang na-relax na sila,” said Guiao.
The Road Warriors posted their first set of back-to-back victories to wheel back into playoff contention after a poor 0-4 start which had most experts writing them off early.
In the second game Blackwater’s Don Trollano drove into the paint to score on a layup to cut the Meralco lead to just 3 points, 75-78, with still 3 minutes left to play. But Chris Newsome countered with back-to-back field goals to extend the Meralco lead to 7 markers, 75-82, with 2 minutes left to play. Newsome later added a free throw, 75-83, Meralco.
Blackwater’s Mike Tolomia drilled a triple to cut the gap to just five, 78-83. Raymond Almazan then scored from underneath virtually settling the outcome, 78-85 for Meralco.
Game 1 Scores:
NLEX Road Warriors 94 – Kevin Alas 18, Jericho Cruz 17, JR Quiñahan 13, Raul Soyud 9, Mike Miranda 8, Kiefer Ravena 7, Anthony Semerad 7, Philip Paniamogan 5, Paul Varilla 5, Paul Galanza 5, Will McAloney 2, Mike Ayonayon 0.
Rain or Shine Elasto Painters 74 – Rey Nambatac 15, Jewel Ponferada 10, Beau Belga 7, Gabe Norwood 7, Kris Rosales 7, Norbert Torres 7, Prince Rivero 7, Javee Mocon 5, Mark Borboran 5, Adrian Wong 3, Sydney Onwubere 1, James Yap 0, Clint Doliguez 0, Ryan Araña 0, Vince Tolentino 0.
Quarter Scores: 24-18, 42-39, 64-57, 94-75.
Game 2 Scores:
Meralco Bolts 89 – Chris Newsome 19, Reynel Hugnatan 14, Bong Quinto 14, Cliff Hodge 11, Allein Maliksi 10, Raymond Almazan 7, Aaron Black 4, Baser Amer 4, Nico Salva 4, Jammer Jamito 2, Trevis Jackson 0, Raymar Jose 0, Nard Pinto 0.
Blackwater Elite 85 – Roi Sumang 15, Richard Escoto 13, Mike Tolomia 10, Niño Canaleta 8, Ed Daquioag 6, Frank Golla 5, Mac Belo 4, Marion Magat 4, Ron Dennison 4, Matt Salem 0, Jonjon Gabriel 0.
Quarter Scores: 25-15, 44-36, 66-59, 89-85.