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Olu Ashaolu returns with a bang, helps NLEX survive Rain or Shine


Olu Ashaolu debuted in the best way possible, saving the NLEX Road Warriors from the gutsy Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 100-97, in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Friday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Ashaolu finished with 26 points, capped by a pair of free throws with 5.1 ticks left to play to wham the nail in the coffin and bury the Elasto Painters, who knocked to within a point, 97-98, after being down by as much as 17 to start the final period.

The returning Ashaolu — who replaced Tony Mitchell and was brought in earlier by NLEX as they now have their sights set in the 2019 Governors’ Cup — also collected 13 rebounds, six assists, and a steal in over 37 minutes of play.

“The import really is a key factor in changing the complexion of the game,” said Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao. “Medyo I had some doubts on Olu’s condition before this game because he arrived three days ago.

“Medyo nagaalala ako nagdududa what kind of shape he’s in pero he looked good in practice. We just ran a couple of plays for him, our basic plays, and it’s a good thing he was able to sustain his energy both offense and defense,” he continued.

Jericho Cruz produced 15 points, six rebounds, and six assists in the win that hiked the Road Warriors’ record to 2-7. JP Erram contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, two blocks, a steal, and an assist for the Road Warriors.

Erram also made a mark for NLEX down the stretch. With the door still open for Rain or Shine to steal the game, the 6-foot-7 center blocked Denzel Bowles’ lay-up with 5.4 seconds left, which led to Ashaolu’s trip to the foul line.

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Bowles had 35 points, nine rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block to lead the Elasto Painters, who fell to 3-4.

Kris Rosales supplied 18 points, three rebounds, three steals, and two assists in the loss. Ed Daquioag had 13 points, four rebounds, and two steals, as Javee Mocon nearly had a triple-double with 12 points, eight dimes, and seven caroms.

The Scores:

NLEX 100 Ashaolu 26, Cruz 15, Ighalo 13, Erram 13, Tiongson 8, Soyud 7, Varilla 6, Quinahan 5, Paniamogan 5, Lao 2, Paredes 0, Baguio 0.

Rain or Shine 97 – Bowles 35, Rosales 18, Daquioag 13, Mocon 12, Belga 9, Nambatac 7, Norwood 2, Alejandro 1, Ponferada 0, Borboran 0, Torres 0.

Quarterscores: 23-23, 51-38, 81-64, 100-97.

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