NLEX pounced on Meralco’s shorter frontline to hack out a 91-84 decision and finally break into the win column in the PBA Governors Cup on Wednesday at the Cuenta Astrodome in Pasay City.
American import Kwame Alexander exploded for 29 points and 17 rebounds while ageless center Asi Taulava finished with 20 points and 11 boards as the hulking frontline duo helped NLEX end a two-game losing streak.
The 42-year-old Taulava was intensity personified, throwing his weight around and highlighting his performance with a one-handed dunk over Rey Guevara following a Meralco turnover late in the third period.
Meralco, which trailed by as much as 10 points, got within 76-78 on American import Andre Emmett’s three-pointer, but Nino Canaleta, Taulava and playmaker Jonas Villanueva put the game away for NLEX.
The win ended a five-game losing streak for NLEX dating back to the tailend of the Commissioner’s Cup where the Road Warriors missed the playoffs.
“Medyo ang sama talaga ng sitwasyon namin kaya ang motivation namin tonight is to get the win, because after meeting with our bosses recently, sinabihan nga kami na kami na lang ang walang panalo among the teams in the MVP group,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
“But I do thank my guys who stuck with our system because we lost five straight including the elims and quarterfinals of last conference,” he added.
NLEX improved to 1-2 overall, tying its victim in the middle of the standings.
The Bolts, whose only victory this conference was a 106-95 overtime decision over San Miguel Beermen last week, relied heavily on imports Emmett and Senya Ando in the second half.
The sweet-shooting Emmett finished with 44 points and 11 boards, while Ando scored 14 of his 18 points in a fine PBA debut after replacing Iranian combo guard Benny Koochoie two days ago.
Gary David, who dropped 23 points against the Beermen, was held to two points on a woeful 0-of-8 from the field.