In a battle of two hungry squads, the NLEX Road Warriors, a team looking to bounce back in the conference, outlasted the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in two overtimes, 122-114, Wednesday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
“We have to learn how to win games like this if we want to go up to the next level,” said first-year NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao. “The challenge is to beat contenders and to beat them in a hard game like this.”
The win is NLEX’s third win in as many games this conference, extending their winning streak to five games coming from last conference. Moreover, this is NLEX’s best start in franchise history. But despite this feat, the 58-year-old mentor feels that they have yet to prove anything.
“It feels good winning this time, it’s the opposite feeling coming of losing the last two conferences. We are still not contenders, we are just having a good run,” reflected Guiao.
This was also the first time NLEX defeated Rain or Shine under Guiao’s watch. The Elasto Painters dropped to 1-1.
“It’s still a learning process for us. To beat Rain or Shine is a testament to the progress that we made. It’s also an awkward feeling beating that team because sometimes I think I’m still the coach of that team,” added Guiao, who coached Rain or Shine from 2011-2016. “That’s my team, their my boys but like I said, magkakalaban na kami ngayon.”
The game itself was a test of who had more gas left, and it was Rain or Shine who faltered.
With Rain or Shine up 112-111 with 3:51 left, Kevin Alas was able to take advantage of two misses from Beau Belga, knocking down a clutch floater to retake the advantage for NLEX. Three consecutive turnovers by Rain or Shine, two by Jericho Cruz, led to baskets for Alex Mallari, Aaron Fuller, and a booming triple by Larry Fonacier to give NLEX a 120-112 lead with 58 ticks remaining.
Alas set his career-high for points in the game, scoring 24 points, to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists. Moreover, the win would not have been possible without his heroics in the first overtime.
“Kevin Alas has been playing consistently. I called him out for making that stupid foul but he made up for it,” Guiao remarked about the three-year pro.
The play Guiao was pertaining to happened with 6.3 seconds left in the first overtime. With Alas and Chris Tiu figuring in a jump ball situation, Alas jumped into Tiu, forcing the referees to call a foul on him. Tiu converted both free throws. Alas then more than made up for it by willing his way to the paint and knocking down the game-tying layup with 2.6 ticks left.
Fuller finished with another monstrous double-double with 30 points and 20 rebounds, while JR Quinahan and Fonacier added 13 and 11 points respectively.
“I guess our chemistry is getting better, our import is fitting in,” Guiao said.
Rain or Shine rallied back from nine points down midway through the final quarter to force overtime. James Yap and Raymond Almazan combined for 16 fourth quarter points, while a strong move by Maverick Ahanmisi with 23.5 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
Yap finished with 14 points, three points shy from hitting the 10,000 points club. James Weatherspoon led Rain or Shine with 20 points but faltered in the final 34 minutes of the game, scoring just seven points.
Eight Elasto Painters scored in double-figures.
NLEX look to continue their run when the Road Warriors face the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Sunday, July 30, at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Rain or Shine, on the other hand, take on the Meralco Bolts on Saturday, July 29, at the Ynares Centre in Antipolo City.
NLEX 122 – Fuller 33, Alas 24, Quinahan 13, Fonacier 11, Lastimosa 10, Mallari 9, Tiongson 6, J. Villanueva 5, Taulava 4, Soyud 3, Al-Hussaini 2, Ighalo 2, Monfort 0, Rios 0.
Rain or Shine 114 – Weatherspoon 20, Belga 15, Yap 14, Ahanmisi 13, Chan 12, Norwood 10, Cruz 10, Almazan 10, Tiu 9, King 1, Ponferada 0.
Quarterscores: 26-27, 59-55, 84-81, 101-101, 122-114.
Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’
Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.
After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.
The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.
“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.
“It’s just humbling, definitely.”
However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.
“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.
“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”
Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.
“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”
Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup
Stronger than ever
Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.
Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.
SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.
Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.
Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.
The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
23 for 2023 cadet CJ Perez honored to help out Gilas
Having had the chance to represent the Philippines in FIBA-sanctioned cagefests such the Asia Challenge Cup and the 3X3 All-Stars back in 2016, Lyceum Pirates star CJ Perez is no stranger to the international stage.
But the 24-year-old do-it-all swingman admits that he still gets overwhelmed whenever he sees his seniors — the stars and pillars of the program — in the team. “Nasusurprise [pa rin] ako,” he said. “Mga professionals eh.
“Na-istarstruck pa rin ako sa kanila.”
Perez said so when he finally made his return within Gilas’ realms last Monday night. The last time he was with the National Team was in August 2016, when the SBP built an amateur-laden batch of Gilas cagers that served as the transition from the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers squad to the 2017 SEABA team.
“Sobrang grateful ako (sa invitation),” said the talented six-foot-two guard, after practice at the Meralco Gym.
The reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player is back in the fold for Gilas as his name, along with young, up-and-coming stars, was included in the 23 for 2023 pool — a list of cagers projected to be the contingent for the Manila-hosted World Cup.
“Iniisip ko yun (FIBA World Cup 2023) simula magtawag sila ng practice. Actually nandoon na yung utak ko eh,” the Lyceum Pirate ace bared. “Kailangan ko lang mag work hard pa para makapasok dun sa lineup na yun, kahit malayo pa.
“It’s an honor para ma-represent yung country.”
Unlike in 2016, Perez graced the court and took part in drills with the veterans such as Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, among others. With those type of players around him, he feels that the lessons he can get will be limitless.
“Oo sobra. Kahit kanino naman (matututo ka talaga),” Perez shared. “(At tsaka) Dito parang more on sa mental. ‘Di na iniisip yung conditioning kasi may ibang teams naman sila so about sa mental toughness [talaga].”
For now, the 23 for 2023 cadets are already working out not just for familiarity, but also to help the seniors in preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this February.
“Sobrang happy and grateful na nakakatulong ako sa kanila kahit sa simpleng practice lang.”
Blistering Mikey Williams takes home Heritage Import of the Week honor
The resurgent Saigon Heat have been the thorn to topflight clubs teams Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club and Nanhai Kung Fu, handing both squads their first losses in the eighth season of the ASEAN Basketball League. The Heat would not have done it without Filipino-American import Mikey Williams.
Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Cal State Fullerton, dropped 39 points on 14-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists in Saigon’s 121-115 overtime win over Hong Kong.
The former NBA G-Leaguer followed it up with a sensational 24-point, five-rebound, and seven-assist outing in their 96-93 win over Kung Fu.
Overall, the 26-year-old guard averaged 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.0 steals to edge out fellow Filipino AJ Mandani of the Singapore Slingers for the weekly award.
For the Local Player of the Week, two Alab Pilipinas stalwarts were the runners-up for the crown.
Reigning local Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and his floor general Josh Urbiztondo had stellar weeks that earned them honorable mentions.
Urbiztondo, on the other hand, had norms of 14.5 points on a hot 9-for-17 clip from downtown.