BOCAUE, Bulacan – NLEX turned to its two young guns as it held off Blackwater, 93-90, on Sunday night at the Philippine Arena to book a playoff ticket in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Kevin Alas found his mark from long range as he conspired with Kiefer Ravena in a fourth-quarter turnaround before the Road Warriors withstood a late stand by the Elite to grind out the victory.
Alas fired a career-high 25 points on five triples in 29 minutes off the bench, while Ravena added 23 points and four treys for the Road Warriors, who registered a fourth straight win and sixth overall in 10 games to climb to joint fourth place with Alaska.
NLEX also handed Blackwater its sixth loss in 10 games to put their victim’s postseason bid in danger.
“It’s another hard game for us,” NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said. “Blackwater’s getting better and they’re giant-killers. I told the guys pahihirapan tayo ng team na ‘to and they did.”
“Good thing Kevin Alas saved the day for us,” he added. “He made some fantastic shots. Pati ako nagulat.”
Ravena was actually the first one to heat up, knocking down three three-pointers in the first quarter where the rookie sensation scored 13 of his output to help put NLEX up by three points after the period.
The Road Warriors cooled down as the Elite took the lead that grew to 11 points in the second quarter, and were still ahead heading into the final frame.
That was when Alas waxed hot, scattering 16 points in the payoff period, including eight straight as the fourth-year combo guard made his first five shots to keep the Elite at bay.
Alas complemented his offensive brilliance with his work on other departments as he finished with eight boards, five assists, one block, and just one turnover.
Mike Digregorio led the Elite with 16 points, built around four triples, the last that pulled Blackwater to within three points, 92-89, with a little over a minute left in the game, before the Road Warriors held on.
NLEX 93 — Alas 25, Ravena 23, Tiongson 9, Quiñahan 8, Al-Hussaini 6, Baguio 5, Mallari 5, Soyud 4, Ighalo 3, Miranda 3, Fonacier 2, Gotladera 0, Taulava 0
BLACKWATER 90 — DiGregorio 16, Erram 14, Jose 14, Maliksi 13, Sena 12, Belo 10, Palma 6, Marcelo 5, Pinto 0
Quarterscores: 23-20, 41-46, 65-74, 93-90