FOR Larry Fonacier, it was just another day in the office.
The NLEX team captain delivered when it mattered, converting a rare four-point play that served as springboard of the Road Warriors’ 105-99 win over the Alaska Aces at the start of their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals series Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 35-year-old wingman drained a three-pointer and was fouled in the process by Calvin Abueva in the final 2:40 of the tightly fought match. Fonacier converted the bonus free throw to tie the game and set the stage for the thrilling finish.
Fonacier finished with 18 points and went 4-of-9 from three-point range. In all, he was 6-of-11 from the field and added nine rebounds. He is only the fourth among active players to make 800 three-pointers in the league after James Yap, Ronaldo Tubid, and LA Tenorio.
Coach Yeng Guiao referred to his four-point play as the ‘biggest play of the game.’
“It was the crucial point of the game where we felt we had a chance to win it,” said Guiao later.
For Fonacier, who has won multiple championships with Red Bull, Alaska, and TnT Katropa, it’s just a job he had to do.
‘We’re just very fortunate, “he said. “Really for a while, we felt the game was slipping away but we just kept fighting, we didn’t lose hope.”
Fonacier, though, gave credit for rookie Kiefer Ravena for finishing the job for the Road Warriors, who are now just a win away from making the semifinals for the very first time.
Ravena got the tip off a jump ball and then scooted for a fastbreak basket and a foul to boot that made it a 101-96 NLEX lead with 18.8 seconds remaining.
“We expect that. That’s why he’s the ‘Phenom,’ said Fonacier, referring to Ravena’s moniker. “He really lifted us and I think everyone knows that when the game is on the line, we know who to give the ball to.”
“And for a special player, that’s what he does.”
While the Road Warriors are up 1-0 in the short best-of-three series, Fonacier is bracing for an all-out comeback by the Aces in Game Two set Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“This game was really hard. And It’s gonna get harder on Wednesday,” he pointed. “Is it a sigh of relief? Not at all. Hopefully we learned from this and we really gonna be careful (for Wednesday).”