Kevin Alas’ fourth quarter explosion shell-shocked the Blackwater Elite, 93-90, and propelled the NLEX Road Warriors to their fourth straight win and into the 2018 Philippine Cup playoffs, Sunday at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
Alas fired 16 of his career-high 25 points in the payoff period, 14 of which were crucial as he helped the Road Warriors turn a 65-74 deficit to an 82-78 advantage — the lead that they never relinquished the rest of the way.
“Kevin Alas saved the day for us,” lauded head coach Yeng Guiao of the former Letran Knight, who also had eight rebounds, five assists, and just one turnover in his name. “He made fantastic shots. Pati ako nagulat.
“I’ve been getting on Kevin’s outside shooting in the past games. I did not expect that it will pay dividends this early,” Guiao added. “That’s just incredible shooting, the best I’ve seen him shoot from the outside.”
The Road Warriors improved to 6-4 and have gone up to the fourth spot in the standings, tying the Alaska Aces. The Elite, meanwhile, dropped to 4-6 — similar to the TNT Katropa — and have gone down as deep as the 10th spot.
Kiefer Ravena provided 23 points, three rebounds, and three steals for NLEX. JR Quiñahan nearly had a double-double outing with eight points and seven rebounds along with three assists, a steal, and two blocks.
The loss wasted Blackwater’s well-deployed attack, as six players scored in double figures. Mike DiGregorio top-billed with 16 points, Poy Erram made 14 points and 17 rebounds, and Raymar Jose had 14 and nine.
Allein Maliksi, who made it 90-93 with 10 ticks left and gave the Elite a glimmer of hope, finished with 13 points. James Sena had 12 and eight boards, while Mac Belo, who missed the potential game-tying trey, chipped in 10 markers.
NLEX will look to end the eliminations strong versus TNT on February 28, Wednesday, 4:30 PM, at Mall of Asia Arena. Blackwater, meanwhile, will aim to bounce back against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Wednesday, February 21, 7:00 PM at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
NLEX 93 — Alas 25, Ravena 23, Tiongson 9, Quiñahan 8, Al-Hussaini 6, Baguio 5, Mallari 5, Soyud 4, Ighalo 3, Miranda 3, Fonacier 2, Gotladera 0, Taulava 0.
Blackwater 90 — DiGregorio 16, Erram 14, Jose 14, Maliksi 13, Sena 12, Belo 10, Palma 6, Marcelo 5, Pinto 0.
Quarterscores: 23-20, 41-46, 65-74, 93-90.