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NLEX tows Alaska with huge fourth quarter rally

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Down big during the third quarter, the NLEX Road Warriors outscored the Alaska Aces by 11 fourth quarter points en route to a 113-102 win and notch their second win held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday.

The Road Warriors started strong as they cruised to a 14-5 advantage early as they made five of their first seven attempts from the floor. NLEX used good ball movement to pour in the points while Alaska struggled making their baskets from the interior. Aside from their good opening quarter defense, the bigs of the Road Warriors also piled up the early rebounds to dictate the tempo early on. Cyrus Baguio made back-to-back treys to trim the lead but was quickly answered by Michael Madanly.

Halfway through the quarter, NLEX was still in front at 22-14. Baguio was the lone bright spot in the opening minutes for the Aces in the opening frame with his hot shooting from downtown but the NLEX starters responded to maintain the lead. In the last four minutes however, Alaska used an 11-2 scoring spree to slice end the quarter only down by two. Calvin Abueva and Eric Menk came off the bench and did the necessary damage to chip into the deficit.

In the second quarter, the ageless Asi Taulava scored six out of the Road Warriors’ first eight points to once again distance themselves from the Aces. Abueva and Romeo Travis committed back-to-back turnovers that haunted the Aces to grab the lead at that point. With NLEX playing zone, wide open shots by the Aces did not drop that led to transition plays on the other end. A triple by KG Canaleta gave his team a 47-40 edge. With 3 ½ minutes left in the first half, a flurry of baskets were made by both teams as they combined for 27 points with NLEX still up at the half.

Alaska went cooking in the start of the second half as they romped up a 16-2 scoring juggernaut and take a huge lead in less than six minutes. The Aces piled up the steals and played solid defense while also knocking down their free throws in that span. Down by as much as 13 points, the Road Warriors refuse to give up and built their run of their own. Taulava and Alexander anchored the late rally by their squad to chop the lead down to two.

Cardona and Taulava combined for five quick points for the Road Warriors to open up the last quarter and take an 88-85 lead. Aces would respond with Romeo Travis scoring four points of his own to swing the lead back to their favor. This signalled a back-and-forth exchange between the two teams for next five minutes. The Road Warriors extended their scoring by a bit with Jonas Villanueva finding Enrico Villanueva to reinstall a five-point lead.

With a little over two minutes to go in the game, Alaska came up with a steal but Travis layup went in and out, thus making Mark Cardona went coast-to-coast on the other end. The four-point swing gave NLEX a 103-96 lead that triggered the Aces to call for a timeout. Alaska failed to convert after the ceasefire as they gave away four more points that practically sealed the deal for NLEX. The Road Warriors further increased their lead to 109-99 and the dying seconds served to be garbage time for both teams.

The two imports of the Road Warriors combined for 56 points and 20 boards. Asi Taulava added 20 more markers and grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds. They had more paint points, 56-36 and more second chance points, 16-11.

NLEX snaps their two-game losing skid with this win and improve to a 2-4 record. Alaska meanwhile, drops to 4-2.

NLEX will next face the San Miguel Beermen on Friday, June 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while Alaska’s next assignment will be up against Kia Carnival on the same date.

The Scores:

NLEX(113) – Alexander 28, Madanly 28, Taulava 20, Cardona 15, Canaleta 6, Villanueva E. 5, Villanueva J. 4, Arboleda W. 3, Borboran 0, Lingganay 0, Ramos 0
Alaska(102) – Travis 31, Baguio 23, Banchero 14, Casio 12, Jazul 8, Abueva 6, Thoss 2, Manuel 2, Menk 2, Dela Cruz 2, Dela Rosa 0, Hontiveros 0, Exciminiano 0

Quarters: 31-29, 60-54, 83-85, 113-102

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