Former Beerman Chico Lanete dims SMB playoff hopes by leading Barako Bull past NLEX
Chico Lanete scored 13 points against NLEX including back-to-back three-pointers that keyed a decisive endgame run by Barako Bull. Czeasar Dancel

CHICO Lanete knocked down back-to-back three-pointers inside the final two minutes to carry Barako Bull to a 91-85 win over NLEX that enhanced its playoff hopes alive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Lanete, an underrated journeyman guard, made a trey with NLEX import Al Thornton right in front of him and nailed another one, this time in the face of Nino Canaleta, less than 30 seconds later to wipe out a two-point NLEX lead and give Barako Bull an 89-85 cushion.

Paolo Hubalde sealed the Energy’s fifth win in 11 games with a 20-foot jumper from the corner.

“Chico is a veteran and you can rely on him down the stretch,” said Barako Bull coach Koy Banal. “I’m glad he stepped up, big for us, especially down the stretch.”

Ironically, Lanete and Hubalde are former players of San Miguel Beer (3-7), whose own playoff hopes dimmed owing to the Barako Bull victory.

Barako can in fact make it to the quarterfinals outright with an SMB win over GlobalPort in the day's other game.

On the other hand, NLEX saw a five-game win run snapped although it hardly mattered as the Road Warriors are already pencilled to meet sister team Meralco in a best-of-three quarterfinal series.

Import Solomon Alabi led the way with 29 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks while Lanete added 13 for the Energy, who snapped a four-game losing streak to revive their playoff hopes.

Solomon Mercado flirted with a double-double after finishing with 12 points and nine assists while doing splendid defensive job against Thornton, who was held to 24 points on 7-of-23 shooting.

The scores:

Barako Bull 91 - Alabi 29, Lanete 13, Mercado 12, Intal 10, Pascual 10, Garcia 7, Hubalde 6, Lastimosa 2, Marcelo 2, Matias 0, Salvador 0, Salva 0.

NLEX 85 - Thornton 24, Cardona 15, Ramos 9, Taulava 9, Canaleta 8, Lingganay 7, J. Villanueva 5, E. Villanueva 4, Borboran 2, Baloria 0, Camson 0, H. Arboleda 0, W. Arboleda 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23; 51-49; 72-75; 91-85.

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