NEWCOMER NLEX launched a lethal 23-5 run in a critical fourth-quarter rampage to smash previously unbeaten Barangay Ginebra, 97-81, in a shocking reversal in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Road Warriors, who are coming off an 81-103 loss to sister team Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, put the defensive clamps on Ginebra while Mac Cardona, Asi Taulava, Jonas Villanueva and Aldrech Ramos combined in a decisive finishing kick.
Josh Urbiztondo’s three-pointer gave Ginebra a 71-67 lead early in the final period, but that proved to be the Kings' last hurrah as they fell into a maze of errors and missed opportunities.
“We had a bad game against Talk ‘N Text but I just challenged the players to step up their defense,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “I really believe they can play defense on any given night and they proved tonight they can play defense.”
NLEX’s defense forced Ginebra to 19 turnovers, which the Road Warriors converted into 19 points.
With the win, NLEX forged a three-way logjam for fourth to sixth places with Ginebra and Rain or Shine, a 117-88 winner over KIA Motors in the day's opening game.
Cardona fired 16 of his season-high 25 points in the second half to spark the Road Warriors' revival while Villanueva and Nino Canaleta added 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Chris Ellis led Ginebra with 19 points while Greg Slaughter had his third double-double in as many games this season with his 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Japeth Aguilar finished with 17 points, but was held to just two in the second half.