NLEX went on a late run to defeat Blackwater, 93-89, on Wednesday at the resumption of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Arnett Moultrie led the charge for the Road Warriors, who gutted out the win in their first game since rookie sensation Kiefer Ravena was slapped an 18-month suspension by Fiba for a doping violation.
With Ravena reduced into a spectator in the stands, the Road Warriors outsteadied the woeful Elite in the make-or-break stretch to claim just their second win in six games.
Moultrie scored seven of his 26 points in the stretch that saw the Road Warriors outscore the Elite, 13-0, to turn a 77-86 deficit into a 90-86 lead with 1:25 left in the game.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao was proud to see the players brush off the distractions and get a badly-needed win.
“We got the lucky breaks in the end game,” said Guiao. “It’s a good thing we were able to set aside all the distractions before this game.”
Moultrie added 16 rebounds and five assists while Juami Tiongson had 10 points and 10 assists. Alex Mallari had 10 points including the game-clinching three-point play.
Mike DiGregorio had 25 points, while Allein Maliksi added 16 points for the winless Elite, who dropped to 0-7, losing after blowing away a 77-67 lead in the fourth period.
Blackwater replacement import Henry Walker scored just 12 points in his conference debut.
NLEX 93 – Moultrie 26, Tiongson 10, Mallari 10, Fonacier 9, Rios 8, Monfort 5, Baguio 5, Marcelo 5, Soyud 5, Ighalo 5, Quinahan 3, Miranda 2.
Blackwater 89 – DiGregorio 25, Maliksi 16, Erram 14, Walker 12, Cortez 4, Belo 4, Al-Hussaini 4, Sumang 3, Palma 3, Zamar 2, Jose 2, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 26-18; 42-40; 67-71; 93-89.