ANTIPOLO – Unlike the unpredictable traffic going up to this breezy city east of Manila, NLEX continued a favorable trend that it had been looking for down the stretch earlier in the conference on Saturday.
The Road Warriors quelled Phoenix’s huge comeback bid with another steady performance down the stretch, hacking out a 116-114 victory to end their PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign on a strong note at the Ynares Center.
Coming off a breakthrough eight-point win over Alaska, the Road Warriors saw their 23-point lead almost disintegrate, but pounced on the fouling out of Phoenix import Jameel Mckay and proved steadier in the endgame to register back-to-back wins after nine straight losses.
Alex Mallari and Wayne Chism paced the Road Warriors on offense, but JR Quinahan, Eman Monfort, and Juami Tiongson also helped them stay afloat in the face of the Fuel Masters’ furious fightback.
Matthew Wright led the comeback as he pumped in a new career-high of 42 points that went for naught as the Fuel Masters put their playoff bid in jeopardy with a seventh loss in 11 games.
“We just wanted to make a good last impression,” NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said. “We’re trying to gain as much confidence as we can. That’s the best we can do with the situation.”
Mallari registered 22 points, nine boards, five assists, and one steal in 29 minutes, while Chism added 20 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks in 40 minutes.
But it was Quinahan who hit the biggest baskets when it mattered most, scoring all but two of his 14 points in the payoff period, where playmakers Tiongson and Monfort scored six points each, with the latter hitting the dagger triple that put them up, 111-103, with 1:17 left, enough cushion to hold on to the win.
Kevin Alas and Carlo Lastimosa were the other two players who scored in double figures for NLEX with 10 each.
Mckay wound up with 16 points and 14 boards before going out with his sixth foul after just 28 minutes of play for Phoenix.
NLEX 116 – Mallari 22, Chism 20, Quinahan 14, Lastimosa 10, Alas10, Monfort 9, Al-Hussaini 8, Tiingson 7, Rios 6,Gotladera 4, Taulava 2, Baracael 2, Soyud 2
PHOENIX 114 – Wright 42, McKay 16, Jazul 13, Baguio 8, Torres 9, W. Wilson 7, Borboran 6, Alolino 5, J. Wilson 5, Intal 2, Dehesa 2, Kramer 0, Miranda 0
Quarterscores: 35-22, 59-46, 83-79, 116-114