Bill Walker flashes vintage form as NLEX snaps skid, deepens woes of Star Hotshots
Henry 'Bill' Walker was true to his word when he promised NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez that 'I have your back.' Jaime Campos

NLEX succeeded in protecting a late lead this time as it held off Star, 88-85, to get back on the winning track in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

After suffering meltdowns in their last three games, the Road Warriors proved steady in the face of numerous threats by the Hotshots as they snapped a three-game skid to improve to a 2-3 win-loss record.

Bill Walker refused to get affected by the referees’ calls this time as he pumped in 32 points, including eight in the final frame as the NLEX import kept the Hotshots at bay and dealt their opponents their second straight loss and fourth in their first five games.

The result spoiled the debut of new Hotshots import Joel Wright, who registered 28 points, 15 boards, three blocks, and three assists, but missed a crucial floater that could’ve tied the game for his team with less than 30 seconds left.

“He said that he had my back and that whatever happens, he would really play all out today. And he proved that,” NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said of Walker.  “But it’s also the rest of my players for playing really hard and wanting to get out of our slump.”

Garvo Lanete added 15 points as he knocked down crucial long bombs, while Jonas Villanueva and Asi Taulava added 10 apiece for the Road Warriors.

Walker, though, carried his team on his back, scoring five straight points – a three-pointer from left wing and a layup that put the Road Warriors ahead, 85-79, a cushion enough to weather a late rally by the Hotshots.

Mark Barroca chipped in 15 points for the Hotshots, but missed a floater in a play transition play where he could’ve called a timeout, and a desperation trey that could’ve tied the game in the end.

The scores:

NLEX 88 – Walker 32, Lanete 15, Taulava 10, Villanueva J. 10, Alas 7, Anthony 6, Khobuntin 4, Akl 2, Soyud 2, Villanueva E. 0

STAR 85 – Wright 28, Barroca 15, Pingris 14, Melton 8, Yap 8, Sangalang 4, Simon 4, Maliksi 2, Pascual 2, Garcia 0, Mallari 0, Reavis 0

Quarterscores: 29-22, 42-39, 65-60, 88-85 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos