NLEX needed to face a contender to regain its bearings as it outlasted Barangay Ginebra, 81-78, to get back on the winning track in the PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
JR Quinahan scored back-to-back baskets to give the Road Warriors the lead for good after trailing by double digits early on, before playing good defense that prevented a handful of Ginebra attempts down the stretch.
The Road Warriors thus snapped a four-game losing streak to improve to a 3-4 win-loss record, tying the Gin Kings in the middle of the standings.
“We don’t know how we won; it’s just sheer determination and some breaks,” NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said. “The important thing is we broke the losing streak, and gave ourselves a chance to still be in the fight.”
“I thought we would not have enough in the endgame ‘cause our offense was just really bad,” he added. “Mabuti na lang it’s a defensive game. It turned out to be physical and we had to adjust mentally. We’re happy we’re able to do that.”
After all, the Road Warriors trailed by as many as 14 points, 50-36, early in the third quarter, but still found themselves in the thick of things in the payoff period where they engaged the Gin Kings in a see-saw battle.
NLEX was still down, 77-75, after the returning Greg Slaughter scored a basket, before Quiñahan
Scored on a short jumper off a Larry Fonacier steal, before putting back Alex Mallari’s missed three-pointer from the right corner that put the Road Warriors ahead with a little less than two minutes left.
Fonacier showed the way for the Road Warriors with 17 points, two assists, one board, and one steal, without a turnover in almost 30 minutes, while Quiñahan finished with 14 points and five boards. Cyrus Baguio also contributed in the rally, firing all but two of his 13 points in the final frame.
Japeth Aguilar led the Gin Kings with 21 points, seven boards, two assists, one steal, and one block in 33 minutes, but missed a crucial three-point attempt from the right corner down the stretch that could’ve given Ginebra the lead.
NLEX 81 – Fonacier 18, Quinahan 14, Baguio 13, Mallari 11, Ravena 7, Taulava 5, Tiongson 4, Alas 4, Miranda 2, Soyud 2, Ighalo 2, Uyloan 0, Gotladera 0
GIN 78 – J. Aguilar 21, Tenorio 12, R. Aguilar 9, Slaughter 9, Thompson 8, Cruz 8, Ferrer 6, Mercado 5, Taha 0, Caguioa 0
Quarterscores: 19-20, 35-43, 55-59, 81-78