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    COLUMN: In low moment, Kevin Alas still showed class and grace

    Aug 1, 2022
    Kevin Alas Don Trollano NLEX Magnolia
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
    spin zone

    CHICAGO - This will sting for a long, long time.

    And those NLEX Road Warriors will spend countless nights either staring at the ceiling or waking up to a nightmare.

    With 27 seconds left in regulation, they were up by 3 over Magnolia and had ball possession. A heavy underdog, a trip to the semifinals was a mere few precious breaths away.

    [See Clutch Jalalon plays enable Magnolia to oust NLEX in OT]

    The worst thing they could do at that point was to turn the ball over, which the Road Warriors did when an errant Kevin Alas pass was intercepted by Magnolia's court general, the pesky, frisky Jio Jalalon.

    The second worst thing the Road Warriors could have done after that miscue was to surrender a 3, which they also did when their lagging transition defense failed to protect the arc.

    So after Paul Lee sank a clutch 3, overtime was just a formality. By then, a demoralized NLEX crew had already melted like cheap candles.

    Continue reading below ↓

    MAGNOLIA 112. NLEX 106.

    The do-or-die defeat negated a career-night by NLEX sophomore Calvin Oftana, who lit up the Mall of Asia arena with 32 points on 10-of-21 shooting. He also had nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.

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    But as he ponders on this masterpiece, he'd probably think of that missed free throw that could have given NLEX a four-point lead in the final minute.

    Alas, who sizzled with 30 points in Game Two, poured in a solid 17 in Game Three on 6-of-14 shooting. He had six turnovers and that blunder late in regulation gave Magnolia oxygen.

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      Breaks of the game, an often cruel fate that happens even to the best.

      "It's very painful," Kevin told me over the phone. "No excuses though. We lost to a very good team. They made better decisions in the end and made big shots and stops."

      If he could fold back the hands of time, he wished he could have called a timeout before the turnover.

      Continue reading below ↓

      "It is my responsibility being the point guard inside the floor to know if we still have timeouts," he added.

      This mea culpa, done so when the wounds are still fresh, shows Kevin's character and leadership.

      THIS YOUNG MAN WILL GO PLACES.

      The Hotshots, meanwhile, will travel to the semifinals for the third straight conference.

      I asked head coach Chito Victolero if he felt he had already lost the game in that fateful final 27 seconds.

      "Hindi ko inisip na matalo o manalo kami at that time. Nag-focus lang ako sa play. Our goal has always been to grind out every possession," he told me in a brief telephone call.

      "I'm so proud of my boys. It was up and down and we made stops in the final two minutes."

      Jio Jalalon Magnolia

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      Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee combined for 45 points as the fulcrum of Magnolia's inside-out attack. A foul-troubled Calvin Abueva had another all-around effort with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.

      And Jio Jalalon played bigger than his 5-foot-9 frame, pestering the Road Warriors with 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. His Hail Mary 3 at the 1:49 mark of overtime gave Magnolia a 106-100 cushion that helped seal NLEX's fate.

      A little luck never hurts.

      But in Magnolia's case, it was the poise and experience as back-to back finalists that carried the day for them.

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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