Down for the majority of the first half, NLEX used a strong second half to propel them to their second straight win in the young PBA Season against the Barako Bull Energy Cola, 93-85 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.
Barako Bull’s offense went flowing in the early goings as all of their starters barged into the scoring column. Veteran Willie Wilson capped a 17-10 start with six straight points in the middle of the period. As NLEX started flat with their small unit to start the game, the Energy Cola scored six more points from the charity stripe after 12 minutes.
Within three minutes, the Road Warriors jumped to a 7-2 start thanks to the efforts by their bench unit. On the other end, Barako Bull responded by reinserting their starters to the floor to regain the lead after seeing it go down to a point. As they only had five turnovers in the first half, RR Garcia and JC Intal made successive jumpers to give the squad a 45-37 lead at the break.
Things turned around in the third quarter as the Road Warriors scored 31 points in the frame that completed the comeback against Barako Bull, who played their first game of the season. The offensive juggernaut started with a 10-3 spurt within the 8:37 mark as Jonas Villanueva tied the match. Six more deadlocks ensued before NLEX blasted another 10-1 rampage to end the period capped by baskets from Mac Cardona, Glen Khobuntin and Enrico Villanueva.
Barako Bull won the fourth period scoring but every mini run was countered by NLEX’s bigs. The Road Warriors were bruising their way for 62 paint points, a striking stat line compared to Barako’s 38. In addition, they also capitalized turnover points as they outscored Energy, 24-6.
For Coach Boyet Fernandez, halftime adjustments were big for the victory as he opened up “Well we beat them in the preseason. We just have to make one stop at a time. (We) brought back the defensive mentality and executed well on our offense. Credit to our veterans and hopefully we continue to play like this.”
Sean Anthony had another productive off the bench with his 11 points, 19 rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes. He says “Our transition defense was key. We came out, we got our stops that turned to easy transition on our part. It’s really about defense”.
Aside from Anthony, Asi Taulava finished the game on a double-double effort with 14 markers and 11 rebounds on 5/10(50%) shooting. Cardona added 11 off the bench. For Barako Bull, four of their starters topped with double-figure scoring led by Willie Wilson’s 16 points while the former Green Archer also grabbed 17 rebounds and dished six assists.
NLEX(2-0) will take an 11-day break as their next game day will be up against the Star Hotshots on Nov. 8, 5:15pm at the Philsports Arena. Meanwhile, the Energy Cola(0-1) faces Ginebra on Sat, Nov. 31 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
NLEX (93) – Taulava 14, Cardona 12, Anthony 11, Alas 11, Villanueva J.10, Camson 8, Villanueva E.8, Borboran 8, Khobuntin 7, Enciso 4, Apinan 0, Arboleda 0, Reyes 0, Lanete 0
Barako Bull (85) – Intal 16, Wilson 16, Pennisi 11, Garcia 10, Urbiztondo 7, Cruz 7, Miranda 7, Baracael 4, Monfort 3, Sorongon 2, Lanete 2, Fortuna 0, Forrester 0
Quarterscores: 18-25, 38-45, 73-63, 93-85
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