NLEX pounced on a complacent Rain or Shine, pulling off an impressive come-from-behind 111-99 victory on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena to stay firmly alive in the playoff race of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Road Warriors bombarded the Elasto Painters from the outside in the fourth quarter, where they outscored their opponents, 40-24, to complete the stunning 33-point turnaround after trailing 21 points early in the game.
Garvo Lanete sparked the comeback, knocking down six three-pointers to finish with a career-high-matching 21 points in 19 minutes off the bench where Rico Villanueva and Sean Anthony also provided timely contribution.
Bill Walker also joined the late barrage as the NBA veteran finished with a team-high 23 points and 12 boards for the Road Warriors, who tied their victims with a 4-5 win-loss record to enter the playoff circle of eight.
“My players simply didn’t give up,” NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said. “Without their heart and effort, we’d probably lose this game.”
The Road Warriors thus matched their greatest comeback in franchise history and the biggest in the league since San Miguel Beer fought back from 22 down coincidentally against Rain or Shine in Game One of their Philippine Cup semifinal matchup this season.
Seemingly left for dead after falling into a deep 48-27 hole, the Road Warriors launched a comeback to remember, slowly climbing to cut it to 10 points at the half then just four points entering the fourth period, where they turned it up a notch.
After going ahead at 83-81 following a jumper by Walker with a little less than eight minutes left in the payoff period, the Road Warriors never looked back as they connected from long range to frustrate the E-Painters.
Paul Lee led the E-Painters with 23 points, six boards, and five assists, but import Jason Forte was held to just seven points and six boards in 28 minutes and didn’t see action in the last seven minutes.
NLEX 111 – Walker 23, Lanete 21, Villanueva E. 14, Anthony 12, Khobuntin 10, Alas 8, Villanueva J. 7, Taulava 6, Arboleda 5, Baracael 5, Monfort 0, Akl 0
ROS 99 – Lee 23, Chan 18, Cruz 16, Quinahan 11, Ahanmisi 8, Forte 7, Norwood 6, Nimes 3, Belga 3, Almazan 2, Trollano 2
Quarterscores: 12-30, 42-52, 71-75, 111-99