Liam McMorrow and JC Intal had big-time 2015 PBA Governor’s Cup performances in their conference debut, coming up big for the Barako Bull Energy in crunch time to outlast the NLEX Road Warriors and cruise away with the 101-96 victory, Wednesday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
McMorrow came up big for the Energy in the first quarter, scoring 13 points and bagging 7 boards for his squad. Along with JC Intal, the towering import helped the Energy pull away via an 8-2 run late in the quarter that led to the pivotal 29-19 lead at the end of the first.
The Barako Bull lead would stay in double digits for most of the early second quarter, with the lead blowing up to sixteen, 39-23, after just three minutes of play. Bolstered by their bench unit, the Energy broke into the 20-point range halfway through the quarter, 47-27. Back-to-back triples care of Mark Borboran and Syrian import Michel Madanly in the final help minute helped the Road Warriors trim the score to 56-42 at the half. Despite the deficit, the Road Warriors shot slightly better than the Energy, having gone 45.9% from the field on 17-of-37 shooting. The Energy meanwhile sank only 22-of-50, 44% from the field.
A 9-3 run put together by American reinforcement Kwame Alexander, Asi Taulava, and Madanly helped the reinvigorated NLEX cut the lead to single digits, 59-51, three minutes into the second half. Led by their own import McMorrow and gunner Carlo Lastimosa, the Energy would manage to protect their advantage amid a brewing NLEX flurry. It was the Syrian-bred Madanly who kept the charge alive, exploding for six unanswered points and trimming the lead to a single digit, 66-65, with three minutes left to play. A three-point play by Aldrech Ramos from Madanly’s assist nabbed the lead for NLEX, 68-66. Following a brief trade of baskets, the clock expired with the score knotted at 70-all.
The lead exchanged hands several times as the two sides engaged in a fiery trade of baskets that went on for most of the fourth quarter. With around two minutes left to play, two free throws from McMorrow and a floater from JC Intal paved the way for Barako Bull to take a 97-92 lead.
Another McMorrow basket in the following minute extended the lead to seven, but back-to-back baskets from Macmac Cardona and Jonas Villanueva cut the lead to three with just around a minute left to play.
JC Intal missed a chance to seal the lead with around half a minute left to play, but the Road Warriors threw the ball before they could convert on what could have been the game-tying shot. A tip in from McMorrow with less than 13 seconds left put in the final nail in the coffin.
McMorrow had 33 points and 22 rebounds in a spectacular debut for the Energy. JC Intal led the locals with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Syrian-import Madanly had an impressive 26 points and 5 rebounds in his first outing on Filipino soil. American import Kwame Alexander had 16 points off the bench.
Barako (101) – McMorrow 33, Intal 24, Ababou 16, Lastimosa 6, Garcia 5, Lanete 5, Maierhofer 5, Yeo 3, Hubalde 3, Wilson 1, Pascual 0, Chua 0.
NLEX (96) – Madanly 26, Alexander 16, Cardona 11, Villanueva J. 10, Canaleta 9, Villanueva E. 6, Lingganay 5, Taulava 5, Borboran 3, Ramos 3, Raymundo 2, Arboleda H. 0.
Quarters: 29-19, 56-42, 70-70, 101-96
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