Clutch Kiefer Ravena hits douse late Magnolia rally as NLEX evens semis series
Kiefer Ravena led NLEX's late surge to seal the win. Jerome Ascano

KIEFER Ravena continued to show why he’s the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, leading NLEX to a 91-79 victory over Magnolia to tie their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at two games apiece on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena

The rookie sensation scored all but two of the Road Warriors’ last 11 points, including seven straight that enabled them to pull away for the victory in Game Four after losing the last two games.

“We felt this was a big game for us, parang do-or-die na nga,” NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said. “A one-and-three win-loss record would practically be a foregone conclusion, so we felt that urgency tonight and the boys stepped up.”

“There’s a bit of luck on our side – our shots went in, but I have to give credit also to our defense,” he added.

Both teams try to move on the cusp of a finals appearance with a win in Game Five of the best-of-seven series on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

The Road Warriors made it a best-of-three series instead of going on the verge of elimination as the shot the lights out, draining 36 of their 68 shots for an above-average 52 percent.

NLEX also beat the defense-oriented Hotshots at their own game, limiting them to just 36-percent shooting after making just 28 of their 76 attempts.

While Magnolia couldn’t buy a bucket, Ravena was on target down the stretch, pouring in nine points in the last four minutes and 47 seconds, capped by the dagger triple that gave them a 91-77 lead with a minute and 42 seconds left.

The 24-year-old  “Phenom finished with 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting, five assists, three boards, and one steal in 29 minutes off the bench, while JR Quinahan, Kevin Alas, and Larry Fonacier also delivered for the Road Warriors.

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Ian Sangalang led the Hotshots with 15 points and 14 boards, but committed six turnovers and scored a measly point in the payoff period.

 

The scores:

NLEX 91 — Ravena 20, Quiñahan 14, Alas 13, Fonacier 10, Baguio 9, Soyud 9, Rios 5, Tiongson 5, Mallari 4, Al-Hussaini 2, Miranda 0, Taulava 0

MAGNOLIA 79 — Sangalang 15, Barroca 11, Lee 11, Jalalon 10, Dela Rosa 9, Ramos 9, Simon 6, Reavis 4, Gamalinda 2, Pascual 2, Brondial 0, Herndon 0, Melton 0, Mendoza 0

Quarterscores: 25-20, 41-39, 69-59, 91-79

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos