BIÑAN, Laguna – NLEX lived up to its moniker as Road Warriors, holding off a pesky Phoenix side, 120-115, in overtime to finally get on the winning track in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday night at the Alonte Sports Arena.
The Road Warriors squandered a nine-point lead in the last two minutes of regulation – and a lead of as many as 19 points in the first half – but made up for it in the extra session where they connected from long range to barge into win column after four games.
Arnett Moultrie flirted with a triple-double while Alex Mallari and Larry Fonacier typified the timely shooting, leading the balanced local effort as the Road Warriors handed the Fuel Masters their second loss in four games.
“We needed this win badly,” NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said. “It's like we're starting to learn how to win again, parang nakalimutan na namin pano manalo. We had a good lead almost throughout the game but we lost it in the last four, three minutes.”
“Of course, that's disappointing but a win is still a win,” he added. “After three losses, we have to start somewhere and just getting a win is a big relief.”
Moultrie poured in 37 points on 15-of-29 shooting, 17 boards, eight assists, four blocks, one steal, and only one turnover in almost 42 minutes, scoring on a crucial stab that sealed the deal, giving the Road Warriors a 115-110 lead with a minute and 21 seconds left in OT.
Mallari added 13 markers, built around three triples – the last putting the Road Warriors up, 113-106, with a little over three minutes left in OT, enough cushion to finally fend off a last-ditch rally by the Fuel Masters.
Fonacier added 11 points – also built around three triples, nine assists, four boards, and one block in 33 minutes, while JQ Quinahan was steady throughout, leading the locals in scoring with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting – making all his three three-point attempts – on top of two assists, two steals, and one board in 27 minutes off the bench.
The Road Warriors had the chance to win it in the fourth quarter when Moultrie scored on a slam off a Kiefer Ravena feed that put them up, 104-102, only to let James White score on a putback on the other end to send the game into OT.
Matthew Wright led the Fuel Masters with 31 points, seven boards, five assists, and one steal, against six turnovers in 39 minutes, while White added 19 points and 11 boards in a losing effort.
NLEX 120 — Moultrie 37, Quiñahan 16, Mallari 13, Fonacier 11, Ravena 9, Miranda 8, Baguio 7, Soyud 7, Tiongson 5, Rios 4, Monfort 3, Ighalo 0
PHOENIX 115 — Wright 31, White 19, Chan 17, Perkins 15, Revilla 9, Jazul 8, Mendoza 8, Kramer 4, Chua 2, Eriobu 2, Alolino 0, Intal 0, Wilson 0
Quarterscores: 28-25, 57-43, 78-72, 104-104, 120-115