Kevin Alas and Calvin Oftana joined hands as NLEX woke up from a deep slumber to turn back Terrafirma, 105-102, for a triumphant start to its 2022 PBA Philippine Cup campaign, Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The veteran combo guard spearheaded the early assault, while the comebacking sophomore provided the needed finish as the Road Warriors completed the fightback after staring at a 16-point deficit in the first half.
Alas finished with 24 points on a 61-percent clip from the field, alongside six assists. Oftana provided 20 points, 18 of which he made in the final period in an impressive return after months due to a fractured finger.
“I’m very happy with the way we won. Because, makikita mo ‘yung character ng team. Kaya naming magbalik,” said head coach Yeng Guiao. “Kayod hanggang huli. So, I look at it as a good sign of the character of this team.”
Oftana scored five straight to give NLEX a three-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the final period. Alas and Don Trollano then helped out afterward to push their advantage to nine, 93-84, with 5:18 to go.
The Dyip, however, didn’t just yield and gave a major scare in the final seconds. Ed Daquioag rifled in a trey to make it a 103-101 gap with 4.3 ticks to play.
The Road Warriors’ lead got trimmed to just one not long after, as Juami Tiongson converted the technical bonus after Justin Chua got called for a technical foul for failure to report to the official for a substitution.
Terrafirma even regained possession moments later. Joshua Munzon was able to deflect the inbound, which hit Chua’s knee first before sailing outside.
Munzon, however, failed to capitalize on the opportunity. He lost the ball along the baseline as he tried to zoom past the defense with 1.4 on the clock.
Oftana would go on to ice the game with exactly a second left to play by calmly sinking both of his shots from the charity stripe.
“Ang laking bagay ni Calvin,” lauded Guiao of the San Beda product. “On a good night, ‘yung bente kayang-kaya ni Calvin. So ‘yun ang na-miss namin against Ginebra in the [Governors’ Cup]semifinals series.”
JR Quinahan supplied 18 points in the win. Trollano had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Chua chipped in 13 markers and 10 boards.
NLEX will look to sustain momentum as it goes up against San Miguel Beer on Friday, June 10, 3:00 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Juami Tiongson and Aldrech Ramos, meanwhile, had 18 points apiece to lead Terrafirma in the defeat. Munzon made 15 points, while Daquioag produced 14 points. Joseph Gabayni had 12, all of which he scored in the first half.
The Dyip will gun for their breakthrough win against NorthPort on Saturday, June 11, 5:15 p.m. also at the Ynares Center.
NLEX 105 – Alas 24, Oftana 20, Quiñahan 18, Trollano 15, Chua 13, Rosales 7, Paniamogan 5, Nieto 3, Miranda 0, Varilla 0, Soyud 0, Ighalo 0, Semerad 0.
Terrafirma 102 – Tiongson 18, Ramos 18, Munzon 15, Daquioag 14, Gabayni 12, Cahilig 7, Go 7, Camson 5, Gomez de Liaño 4, Balagasay 2, Calvo 0, Enriquez 0, Mina 0.
Quarterscores: 17-18, 47-31, 76-71, 105-102.