NLEX proved steadier than Mahindra at crunch time as it hacked out an 82-81 victory to gain some momentum in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Road Warriors squandered a third-quarter double-digit lead and even trailed late in the game, but came back after tightening their defensive screws down the stretch to notch a second straight win and improve to an even 3-3 win-loss record.
Bill Walker hit NLEX's final basket as he came a point shy of reaching the 40-point plateau, while Kevin Alas added 13 points, but it was his defense that preserved the win – picking the pocket of James White in a late play to make up for his own turnover in the previous possession for NLEX, which dealt the Enforcers their second straight loss that dropped them to 4-2.
“We made three good stops in the last two minutes and we’re really happy that we followed our defensive schemes,” NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said. “They’re sticking with each other.”
Walker fired 17 points in the final frame, including two on that perimeter jumper that capped an 11-2 run to finish the game after the Road Warriors trailed by eight points, 79-71, with over four minutes left to play.
White registered 21 points, but committed that turnover to Alas in that potential game-winning play off timeout.
Niño Canaleta led the Enforcers with 23 points and had a few chances to rescue his team, but committed a turnover and missed a jumper in two possessions that hastened the downfall of his team, which overhauled an 11-point deficit in the third quarter.
NLEX 82 – Walker 39, Alas 13, Villanueva J. 9, Taulava 8, Khobuntin 4, Villanueva E. 4, Baracael 3, Anthony 2, Akl 0, Forrester 0, Monfort 0, Soyud 0
MAHINDRA 81 – Canaleta 23, White 21, DiGregorio 11, Pinto 7, Elorde 5, Taha 4, Jaime 3, Ramos 3, Aguilar 2, Yee 2, Ballesteros 0, Guinto 0, Agovida 0, Webb 0
Quarterscores: 24-17, 36-30, 60-59, 82-81