NLEX’s choking defense held Alaska without a field goal in a seven-minute span in the final period as the Road Warriors hammered out a 113-102 victory to revive their playoff hopes in the PBA Governors Cup on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With NLEX teetering on the brink of elimination, imports Kwame Alexander and Michel Madanly as well as Asi Taulava churned out big numbers to help the Road Warriors snap a two-game skid and get back in the hunt for a place in the knockout quarterfinals.
NLEX improved to 2-4, good for a three-way tie for eighth to 10th spots with Star and Barangay Ginebra, after its first win in franchise history against Alaska.
On the other hand, Alaska fell into a tie for third to fourth spots with idle GlobalPort at 4-2, just behind Barako Bull’s league-best 5-1 win-loss card and San Miguel Beer (5-2).
“We’re happy we got this one. At least we won against Alaska because it gives us a morale-booster as we prepare against San Miguel,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
The high-leaping Alexander, whose job was suddenly in the balance following the reported arrival of former Barako Bull import Joshua Dollard, erupted for 28 points, including nine big points during the final quarter.
The 2014 Sprite Slam Dunk champion added 11 rebounds while providing the strong inside presence Fernandez wanted to see from him.
“The way he (Alexander) played tonight, management will give him another chance. Though we’re thinking about it (replacing him), with the way he played mahirap naman na manalo tapos papalitan siya,” said the NLEX coach.
“So he gives himself a chance to stay. He knows how important he is to this team.”
Fernandez also credited Madanly, who appeared to have fully recovered from a neck injury as he also finished with a PBA career-best 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
“Every time he’s (Madanly) on the court, his teammates are energized because he comes in with the winning attitude for the team,” said Fernandez.
Romeo Travis led Alaska with 31 points and 12 rebunds, while Cyrus Baguio chipped in 23. Rookie guard Chris Banchero added 14 points, six rebounds and two assists.
NLEX 113 - Alexander 28, Madanly 28, Taulava 20, Cardona 15, Canaleta 6, Villanueva E. 5, Wilson 4, Villanueva J. 4, Arboleda W. 3, Borboran 0, Ramos 0.
Alaska 102 - Travis 31, Baguio 23, Banchero 14, Casio 12, Jazul 8, Abueva 6, Manuel 2, Thoss 2, Menk 2, Dela Cruz 2, Dela Rosa 0, Exciminiano 0, Hontiveros 0.
Quarterscores: 31-29, 60-54, 83-85, 113-102