KELLY Nabong capped his game-long heroics by nailing two pressure-packed free throws to lead GlobalPort to a thrilling 91-88 overtime win over Alaska that kept its playoff hopes alive in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The sophomore backup center scored 13 points to go with 10 rebounds and three assists as he stepped up in the absence of star forward Jay Washington, who is out for the conference due to a partial tear in the plantar fascia in his right foot.
Nabong was also big in the endgame, hitting the barreling drive down the lane that sent the game into an extra period before hitting the two free throws that gave the Batang Pier a three-point lead, 91-88, with 2.4 seconds remaining.
“Kelly has been playing well. Eh magkapuwesto lang kasi sila ni Jay Wash. But it was great that he was able to step up," said GlobalPort interim coach Ritchie Ticzon. "He’s really good and his passion for the game is something.”
Sol Mercado added 11 points and made the crucial interception of the final Alaska inbound that deprived the Aces a shot at a game-tying three-pointer.
By ending a five-game losing streak and improving to 5-8 (win-loss), GlobalPort clinched at least a playoff for the eighth and last berth in the quarterfinals while sending Alaska to the brink of elimination.
The Aces, now 4-9, must beat Barako Bull in their final elimination-round game and hope that GlobalPort loses its last match against Barangay Ginebra just to gain a playoff for a quarterfinal spot.
The Aces missed the services of last season’s Rookie of the Year Calvin Abueva, who sat out due to a sprained ankle two days after getting involved in a controversial scuffle with Meralco's Jared Dillinger.
Rookie Terrence Romeo bounced back from a subpar four-point output against Petron to lead Globalport with 18 points while Eric Menk added 10 and Jaypee Belencion nine.
Jvee Casio and Sonny Thoss led the Aces with 21 points apiece. But Thoss was held scoreless by Nabong in overtime.
GLOBALPORT 91 - Romeo 18, Nabong 13, Mercado 11, Menk 10, Belencion 9, Salvador 8, Salva 7, Najorda 6, Garcia 5, Hayes 4, Revilla 0, Chua 0.
ALASKA 88 - Casio 21, Thoss 21, Baguio 20, Espinas 14, Dela Cruz 7, Buenafe 3, Eman 2, Laure 0, Jazul 0, Hontiveros 0, Ramos 0, Exciminiano.
Quarterscores: 15-19, 34-31, 68-55, 82-82, 91-88