BARAKO Bull proved steady in the clutch, leaning on JC Intal and seven-foot import Liam McMorrow to outlast NLEX, 101-96, in the two teams' PBA Governors Cup debut on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Intal banged in 14 of his 24 points in the final period, going 3-of-3 from beyond the three-point arc in a clutch performance that enabled Barako Bull to regain control after blowing a 21-point, first-half lead.
Equally important was McMorrow’s contribution on both ends of the floor. He finished with 22 rebounds and 33 points - none more important than a putback of Chico Lanete’s airball attempt late in the game.
“We led by 14 at halftime, lost the lead, but we were able to turn things around in the fourth quarter,” said Barako Bull coach Koy Banal, whose team also got 16 points off the bench from new boy Dylan Ababou.
NLEX came charging back in the third quarter behind the hot hands of Syrian import Michel Madanly, who fired 12 of his team-high 26 points in that stretch.
But the sweet-shooting Madanly figured in a freak accident that saw him hit his face accidentally on Ababou late in the third quarter. The 34-year-old gunner didn't return.
McMorrow’s sheer size gave Barako Bull a huge 62-43 advantage in rebounds, along with a 24-9 edge in second-chance points.
NLEX’s American import Kwame Alexander finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, just two days after arriving in Manila to serve as late replacement for Rob Jones.