NLEX frustrated Terrafirma, 108-94, to collect its second win in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, Sunday night at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The Road Warriors turned things around come the second half en route to coming back into the win column after absorbing a 93-110 whipping from CJ Perez and San Miguel Beer a couple of nights ago.
“Malakas na team ‘tong Terrafirma. I think the rookies, their young guys have potential. They put up a good fight,” said coach Yeng Guiao.
Kevin Alas led NLEX with 21 points and five rebounds, while veteran big man JR Quiñahan scored 19 that saw him nail three triples.
Rookie Calvin Oftana had his best game in the pros so far with 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and a block. Jericho Cruz had 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, as Anthony Semerad supplied 13 markers.
“Yung effort lang naman nagkulang nung first half e. Sabi nga ng coaches sa amin, kahit anong ganda ng gameplan, ‘di talaga kami mananalo. I guess it’s more on the effort of the players,” offered Alas.
The first half saw the Road Warriors trail by nine, 25-34, with less than eight minutes left in the second quarter, but they managed to find their groove to trim the deficit to just three points entering the halftime break.
That breather did not halt any of that rhythm they got, and Quiñahan eventually put them up, 51-50, with 8:05 to go in the third. Oftana, Semerad, and Alas then made a 14-3 run to make it a 71-57 lead heading into the period’s end.
But the Dyip didn’t easily rollover. They responded with a run of their own, and Rashawn McCarthy’s three-point play turned the deficit to just a solitary point, 72-73, about a minute into the deciding chapter.
That, however, would be the closest Terrafirma would get. Quiñahan, Cruz, and Don Trollano went on to string buckets together for a 13-5 run to give NLEX a 93-80 lead with 6:27 left, and the game was never in doubt since.
“Masyadong mataas ‘yung percentage nila noong first half kaya naunahan kami. So we just tried to hang in there,” said Guiao, as the Dyip shot 43.8-percent from beyond the arc — 3-of-3 from Aldrech Ramos — in the first half.
“Noong bumagsak na ‘yung three-point shooting nila, medyo naka-bwelo na kami tapos kami nakakuha ng sarili naming three-points. I think that was the key,” he added, as his side went 7-of-13 from deep in the second half.
The Road Warriors won even if Kiefer Ravena got plagued by fouls, limiting his usage and production as well. He got called for four fouls, and only had five points and seven assists in over 22 minutes of play.
Joshua Munzon led Terrafirma with 24 points, indeed an improvement from his six-point showing in his debut versus TNT. Ramos finished with 17 points, as Andreas Cahilig produced 10 in their second loss in as many games.
This was the Dyip’s return to action after being placed under the league’s health and safety protocols as they were the opponents of TNT, who had four players suspected to have contracted the coronavirus.
The Tropang Giga (1-0), though, is expected to play again on Friday, July 30, against NLEX at 6:00 p.m. to cap off a triple-header affair that will be opened by Terrafirma’s duel with Magnolia (3-0) at 12:30 p.m.
NLEX 108 – Alas 21, Quinahan 19, Oftana 16, Cruz 15, Semerad 13, Soyud 7, Ravena 5, Porter 4, Trollano 4, Miranda 4.
Terrafirma 94 – Munzon 24, Ramos 17, Cahilig 10, Adams 9, McCarthy 8, Calvo 7, Rosser 6, Tiongson 5, Laput 4, Gabayni 2, Celda 2, Balagasay 0, Batiller 0.
Quarterscores: 23-25, 41-44, 73-67, 108-94.