NLEX ‘ran out of gas,’ simply put.
Wayne Selden, Jr. said as much after the Road Warriors failed to protect a seven-point lead with just about two minutes left and bowed to Ginebra Wednesday night, absorbing their first loss of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
“We missed opportunities to get stops. Gave up a couple threes. We gotta be better to close the game. We gotta be able to finish the game. We ran out of gas,” he said moments after the 114-111 loss at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
NLEX appeared to be en route to replicating its Commissioner’s Cup win over the reigning champions last November when it led by as much as 12 early in the fourth and held a 108-101 edge with only 2:10 left to play.
But the Kings refused to see it happen again.
Rookie guard Jeremiah Grey starred in a 13-3 rally in what turned out to be their finishing rally, including the go-ahead triple to give the crowd darlings the 112-111 lead with only 17.8 seconds remaining.
He scored nine in that assault, which all came from beyond the arc. The 26-year-old would go on to finish with a season-high 19 points on a 5-of-7 clip from deep, together with four rebounds and three assists.
Not only did Grey steal the show from the shootout between Selden and Justin Brownlee but the youngster was indeed a big reason why the former NBA cager did not have the PBA debut he had hoped for.
Wasted by the loss was the 28-year-old’s outing, where he tallied 43 points on a 46-percent clip from the field alongside seven rebounds, seven assists, and a steal against just one turnover in 45 minutes of play.
The 6-foot-4 guard scored 20 in the third quarter alone, helping his side establish a 92-84 advantage entering the game’s final 12 minutes after trailing by as much as 11 points, 39-50, during the second chapter.
Selden admitted getting tired in crunch time but offered no excuses.
“I have a responsibility to the team, to the staff, to the coaches to be as good as I can be, and be a leader. Got a little tired down the stretch tonight, but it’s no excuse. The next game, I’ll have more energy, for sure,” he said.
And despite the defeat, Selden likes what he’s seen thus far.
“We got a lot of potential. That’s a great group of guys. I’m happy with the guys. We worked hard tonight. Just made a couple of mistakes on defense and I know we’ll be better next game,” the former Kansan Jayhawk said.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.