NLEX finally broke through in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup as it compounded the woes of NorthPort, 102-88, Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Pampanga.
Kiefer Ravena played his best game so far in the bubble, leading the Road Warriors with 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting on top of five rebounds and four rebounds as his side improved to 1-3.
JR Quinahan provided 17 points, as Kevin Alas churned out his best performance since coming back from a second ACL injury as he finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.
“We feel we’re still in this tournament,” said Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao post-game. “We’re just trying to survive. We’re just trying to get our bearings back, our chemistry back.”
NLEX held a nine-point lead seconds into the fourth quarter, only to allow NorthPort to trim the deficit to just a solitary point after Kevin Ferrer’s back-to-back treys and a Sean Manganti bucket with 10:26 remaining.
Quick, though, was the response of the Road Warriors. Raul Soyud responded with a mid-range jumper, which sparked a 14-1 run that gave them a favorable 91-77 advantage with 9:38 on the clock.
The lead would balloon to as huge as 20 following Ravena’s three-point play conversion with 2:54 left to play as the Batang Pier badly missed the presence of veteran forward Sean Anthony.
The 34-year-old is suspected to have pulled his right hamstring with 31 seconds left in the opening frame. He was subbed out and never returned, leaving the game with three assists, two rebounds, and two steals
“We got a big break just with Sean Anthony not being able to go back. But the guards were still killing us. Kevin Ferrer hit some big threes. It’s a good thing we were able to gain some distance, some momentum after that,” Guiao said.
Kevin Ferrer returned to the fold after missing NorthPort’s match versus Rain or Shine last Sunday due to a swollen foot and finished with 18 points to lead the Batang Pier, who absorbed their fourth loss in as many games.
Christian Standhardinger, who was averaging 21.3 points and 10.7 rebounds heading into Wednesday’s game, only had seven points on six shots in the loss, though he had 13 rebounds and five assists.
NLEX now aims to ride the wave of momentum as it faces Meralco on Friday, Oct. 23, while NorthPort hopes to have its own breakthrough versus another winless team in Terrafirma on Saturday, Oct. 24. Games are at 4:00 p.m.
NLEX (102) – Ravena 25, Quinahan 17, Alas 16, Cruz 10, Miranda 9, Porter 8, Soyud 7, Ayonayon 6, Ighalo 2, McAloney 2, Galanza 0, Semerad 0, Paniamogan 0, Galanza 0.
NorthPort (88) – Manganti 16, Ferrer 18, Lanete 13, Revilla 8, Elorde 8, Standhardinger 7, Taha 6, Subido 6, Cruz 0, Anthony 0, Nabong 2.
Quarterscores: 20-15, 49-39, 75-68,102-88.