NEVER underestimate a desperate team.
NLEX came back from the jaws of defeat to stun Blackwater in overtime, 102-89, pumping life into its PBA Governors Cup playoffs bid on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Kwame Alexander, Michael Madanly, Asi Taulava, and Mac Cardona engineered the Road Warriors’ comeback from a 10-point deficit in the final three minutes when they outscored the Elite 12-2 to forge the extra period.
The quartet sustained the momentum in the five-minute extension to pull off the dramatic win, only NLEX's third in 10 outings but still good enough to put the Road Warriors in a position to make the playoffs.
“It’s not in our hands right now (playoffs bid) even if we won this game. But I have to give credit to the boys. This win is for the players,” said Boyet Fernandez, whose team remained mired in 11th spot despite the rousing victory.
The Road Warriors trailed by as many as 62-45, and were down 85-75 with three minutes remaining in the game.
But Alexander and Taulava began asserting their might inside while Mandaly waxed hot from the outside as the Road Warriors got their acts back and put together the team’s telling run for the game.
Taulava’s inside foray tied the game at 85-all before Cardona shoved the Road Warriors in front, 87-85, with 47 seconds left in regulation.
Though still reeling, Blackwater regained composure by foiling NLEX’s inbound play that paved the way for two crucial-packed free throws by Marcus Cousin with ninth-tenths of a second and forged the overtime play, 87-all.
It was all NLEX from there.
“This team is not really good offensively, but we can win it by defense,” said Fernandez later.
Alexander finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds, while Madanly had 18 including 5-of-10 from the three-point zone, the last one put the Road Warriors in command in overtime play, 96-89.
Blackwater fell to a 1-9 win-loss record and will end its season campaign against defending champion Star Hotshots.
Coach Leo Isaac refused to talk about the loss, saying management had a pending order to course all interview to team manager Johnson Martinez.
NLEX (102) – Alexander 26, Madanly 18, Cardona 16, Taulava 10, Villanueva 9, Wilson 8, Borboran 5, Lingganay 4, Arboleda W. 3, Ramos 2, Canaleta 1, Raymundo 0, Villanueva E. 0
Blackwater (89) – Cousin 29, Canada 11, Reyes 9, Heruela 9, Erram 8, Faundo 6, Laure 5, Ballesteros 4, Cervantes 3, Salvacion 3, Gamalinda 2, Acuna 0.
Quarterscores: 25-25; 38-44; 57-67; 87-87 (reg); 102-89