NLEX came from behind and frustrated Blackwater, 105-102, for a 2-0 start to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Earl Clark and the backcourt duo of Kevin Alas and Matt Nieto joined forces to create the Road Warriors’ 15-5 finishing kick for a successful comeback from a flat start that saw them trail by as many as 16 points early in the third.
“Even when we were trailing, hindi bumitaw ang mga bata. Ayun ang pinaka-importante,” said acting head coach Adonis Tierra.
The 34-year-old Clark finished with 38 points and 25 rebounds, together with four assists, three blocks, and a steal as the MVP ball club is now sharing leadership of the standings with guest team Bay Area.
“We’re just trying to figure it out. We’re just going as we come along,” offered the former NBA cager. “Today was a tough match up. We didn’t shoot that well, but we stayed with it. For the beginning of the season, it’s a good test for us.”
Don Trollano supplied 18 points and eight rebounds in the victory. Alas produced 16 points, as Nieto chipped in 10 markers and six boards.
The Road Warriors will look to extend their streak to three against Phoenix on October 8, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the Philsports Arena.
The loss couldn’t be any more disappointing for Blackwater, who was led by Baser Amer with a season-high 26 points as he made four of their 12 treys.
In control practically the entire match, the Bossing were just less than four minutes away from the win as they held a 97-90 lead.
That, until Clark hit a mid-range jumper that proved to be the kick-starter to his side’s endgame rally while the opposition turned cold on offense all of a sudden, eventually falling to their second defeat in three outings.
Cameron Krutwig flirted with a triple-double with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists in the meltdown. Rashawn McCarthy had 17 points, while Ato Ular almost had a double-double of his own with 10 markers and eight caroms.
Blackwater (1-2) will try to rebound against the debuting San Miguel Beer on Wednesday, October 5, 3:00 p.m. also at the Big Dome.
NLEX 105 – Clark 38, Trollano 18, Alas 16, Nieto 10, Chua 9, Rosales 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Miranda 3, Varilla 2, Ighalo 0.
Blackwater 102 – Amer 26, Krutwig 18, McCarthy 17, Ular 10, Banal 9, Taha 7, Jackson 5, Suerte 5, Rosario 3, Go 2, Ebona 0, Sena 0.
Quarterscores: 20-26, 45-56, 72-81, 105-102.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.