NLEX finally won under new coach Frankie Lim, overcoming sister team TNT, 110-101, on Wednesday in the 2022-23 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Philsports Arena.
Earl Clark lit up with 45 points and 16 rebounds as the Road Warriors broke their two-game losing skid since Lim took over from interim coach Adonis Tierra.
The former NBA player scored four when the Road Warriors went on an 11-0 run that widened the lead to 95-83, matching their largest in the game.
Clark shot 19-of-27 from the field while also rejecting four shots as NLEX improved to 3-3 since Lim was appointed in lieu of Yeng Guiao.
Lim said he was happy to get his first win at NLEX at the expense of a 'big team' like TNT.
“Kasi big team eh,” said Lim, who also previously served as TNT team manager and briefly as coach of Barangay Ginebra.
“It means a lot to us especially after two losses. Iniisip ko nga, when will be my first win? ‘Yung naka-lineup sa akin, we play Magnolia, TNT, then San Miguel, all big teams. We just found ways on how to maximize our players.”
Kevin Alas scored 24 points including 11 in the fourth quarter while Don Trollano and Matt Nieto had 16 and 12 points apiece for the Road Warriors, who played without new recruit Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser.
Cam Oliver had 26 points and 22 rebounds while Roger Pogoy had 19 points but TNT saw the end of a two-game win streak to go down to 2-2 despite entering the final quarter with a 77-74 lead.
Pogoy had nine in the fourth as TNT was able to cut the deficit to 104-99, but Mikey Williams missed a wide-open three which led to two free throws by Alas and a basket by Clark to make it a 108-99 advantage with 1:37 remaining.
TNT recruit Calvin Oftana scored 11 against his former team.
NLEX 110 – Clark 45, Alas 24, Trollano 16, Nieto 12, Miranda 9, Rosales 3, Chua 1, Celda 0, Varilla 0, Fonacier 0, Magat 0.
TNT 101 – Oliver 26, Pogoy 19, M. Williams 16, Oftana 11, Erram 10, Castro 8, Montalbo 6, K. Williams 5, Tungcab 0, Alejandro 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarters: 26-15; 49-45; 74-77; 110-101.