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Barako Bull prevails in fourth quarter thriller with NLEX, books playoff ticket



After starting the season with a dismal 0-5 record, the Barako Bull Energy Cola have finally revealed
what they can do in crunch time, outlasting a win-hungry NLEX Road Warriors squad in a thrilling 92-87
outing, Tuesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Barako Bull led by six entering the final two minutes, but a feisty Mac-mac Cardona denied the Energy
the chance to quickly do away with the Road Warriors, trimming the lead to as little as three points in
the final seconds of the ball game.

The Road Warriors took control early in the first quarter, leading by as many as eight. With a minute left
to play, they led 18-12, but a 6-0 blitz in the final minute spurred by Barako Bull’s Carlo Lastimosa saw
the lead pushed to a deadlock at the buzzer, 18-all. NLEX continued to pull away anew in the
second quarter, but as if history were literally repeating itself, an 8-2 blitz in the final two minutes that
saw a JC Intal three-point conversion and an RR Garcia trey gave Barako Bull their first taste of the lead.
At the half, Barako Bull had the lead, 41-39.

Powered by fiery shooting from their backcourt unit, Barako Bull took control of the game in the third
quarter, leading by as many as eight. A late explosion from the ageless veteran Asi Taulava gave the
Road Warriors the lead back with three minutes on the clock, 60-58. There was no last minute rally
from the Barako Bull this time, as the Road Warriors managed to hold on the lead, 66-62, at the
end of the period.

Barako Bull proved to be the quicker draw in the ensuing shootout at the start of the fourth quarter,
with the sweet-shooting Garcia paving the way for a sizeable 84-78 advantage entering the final two
minutes. But keeping the spark alive for the Road Warriors was Taulava, whose three-point
play with 1:40 on the clock trimmed the Barako Bull lead to a manageable 84-81.

Following a couple of missed opportunities from both squads, the score remained unchanged with
less than a minute on the clock. Chico Lanete had the chance to put the nail in the coffin, but missed a trey
with 48 seconds left to play. Garcia managed to grab the rebound, hold on the ball to
burn a couple more seconds, before sinking a floater to give Barako Bull the 86-81 lead with 28.8 left on
the clock.

With less than twenty seconds remaining, Barako Bull led 88-81, but a breakaway three from Cardona gave the Road Warriors a lease on life to trim the lead to four, 88-84. Two free-throws from Mic Pennisi in the following play padded the lead to six,
90-84, but Cardona once again came alive, finishing a three-point play to bring the margin down to three,
90-87, with 12.7 left on the clock. A couple more free-throws and defensive stops paved the
way for Barako Bull to escape with the victory.

Former UAAP Most Valubale Player Garcia took home Player of the Game honors, bagging 22 points
and 5 rebounds.

The Energy have won four of their past five games, improving to 4-6 after losing their first five
assignments. The slumping Road Warriors meanwhile slide to 3-7, and need to win their next
assignment to protect their spot in the playoffs.

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