The NLEX Road Warriors nailed their second win of the Commissioner’s Cup in dramatic fashion, embarking on a 42-point fourth quarter rally to overtake the San Miguel Beermen, and steal away a crucial victory, 100-93, last Tuesday afternoon at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The first three quarters were by dominated by San Miguel. Powered by a hot start from Arwind Santos and import Arizona Reid, who combined for San Miguel’s first 15 points, the Beermen took control of the game and held on to the early lead. San Miguel was pulled away late in the quarter, doubling the Road Warriors’ output, 24-12 with a minute left to play. After the final minute of the quarter, they exited with a 26-14 lead.
NLEX veterans, Asi Talauva and KG Canaleta, hit a couple of big baskets early in the second period to come within a six point difference, 26-32. The Beermen, however, responded by going 5-0 to extend the lead back to double digits, 37-26. Out-hustling the Road Warriors on both ends, the San Miguel entered halftime with a convincing 46-33 lead. The Beermen shot a remarkable 42% from the field, while holding the Road Warriors to 34%. Arizona Reid had 16 points, while Arwind Santos had 13, combining for 29 of SMB’s 46 points of the first half.
The big men of SMB continued dominance extended the lead to a seventeen point difference, 53-37, halfway through the third period. With five minutes left in the quarter, a layup from Reid gave the Beermen a 20-point lead, 61-41. A late flurry by the Road Warriors did nothing to slow down San Miguel, and at the end of another twelve minutes, the Beermen still led by double digits, 75-58.
NLEX finally found its much needed spark early in the fourth, with big baskets from Taulava, Al Thornton, and Rudy Lingganay that helped cut the lead down to nine, 82-73, three minutes into the final quarter. Reinforcement Thornton came to his squad’s rescue, exploding for five straight points and bringing the Road Warriors to a four point gap, 81-85, with just less than five minutes to play. Another five-point flurry, this time featuring a trey from Macmac Cardona and a basket from Mark Borboran gave NLEX the lead, 86-85. SMB’s Chris Lutz ushered in the game’s most heated portion with a trey to give SMB back the lead, 88-86. Two free throws from Jonas Villanueva knotted the game at 88-all with three minutes left.
Thornton was first to break the deadlock, nailing two free throws that gave NLEX a two-point edge. Later, with a little less than two minutes on the clock, a triple from Jonas Villanueva extended the lead to five, 93-88. The Beermen, meanwhile, struggled to score from their end of the court, and after a series of missed threes from SMB, Thornton gave the Road Warriors a seven-point lead, 95-88, with less than fifty ticks left on the clock.
Arwind Santos gave the Beermen a lease on life, sinking a trey to cut the lead to four, 91-95, with thirty seconds left. After drawing a foul, NLEX’s Villanueva split two free throws to extend the lead by a single digit, 26 seconds left on the clock. Two more free throws from Thornton gave the NLEX a 98-91 edge with 19 seconds left. With the lead too big and the Beermen’s fouling doing nothing to trim the gap, it was the Road Warriors who walked away victorious.
Al Thornton was named Player of the Game after scoring 30 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Also, Asi Taulava chipped in 20 for NLEX, while Arizona Reid led San Miguel with 27 points and 6 rebounds. With the win, NLEX improves to 2-4 standing, while San Miguel slides to 1-5, joining the Blackwater Elite at the bottom of the standings.
Thornton 30, Taulava 20, J. Villanueva 15, Cardona 9, Borboran 8, Lingganay 6, Canaleta 6, Apinan 2, Ramos 2, E. Villanueva 2
Reid 27, Santos 20, Kramer 15, Fajardo 10, Lutz 10, Cabagnot 6, Lassiter 2, Tubid 1
Quarter scores: 14-26, 33-46, 58-75, 100-93
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