The NLEX Road Warriors pulled off an 89-76 win over the Meralco Bolts to cap off the PBA Friday night held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A defensive-themed opening quarter was displayed between the two squads as they combined for just 21 points within the first nine minutes of the match. NLEX ended the first period on a 9-2 run with Mark Cardona and KG Canaleta hitting their shots to give them a four-point lead at the end of twelve minutes.
An exchange of inside baskets occurred at the second period with Asi Taulava and Josh Davis anchoring their respective squads in the paint. Up by a solitary point, the Road Warriors extended their gap against the Bolts with a 10-1 run which included five unanswered points from Al Thornton and a triple from Jonas Villanueva. The perimeter shots were not falling for the Bolts as they trailed by ten points at the half.
Davis and Gary David led the charge for Meralco’s attempt for a comeback in the second half as they quickly trimmed the deficit down to five points. Villanueva, however, countered with a huge triple to stop the bleeding with a little over eight minutes to play to extend the lead once more at 50-42. After a timeout, Meralco’s surge continued as they made a 9-0 run capped by a Mike Cortez triple to give them the upper hand.
Responding to the challenge, Thornton asserted himself late in the third as he scored on multiple baskets while also anchoring the defense on the other end, to give NLEX another seven point lead after losing the edge for a while. With enough defensive pressure, the Road Warriors were able to keep Meralco at bay heading into the fourth.
The comeback hopes of the Meralco Bolts vanished as Davis committed a charging foul against Thornton with 2:46 left to play. In the ensuing play, Niño Canaleta scored on a bankshot and was followed by a Mark Borboran stab off a broken play. After a stop on the other end, Canaleta drained in a corner stepback three-pointer that served to be the dagger of the ball game.
The win gives the Road Warriors a 3-4 record as they distance themselves in the standings from San Miguel and Blackwater, which has only one win under their respective slates. On the other hand, Meralco drops to a 5-2 record and are now losers of two straight after dropping their game against the Beermen last week.
The next assignment for the Road Warriors will be against Ginebra on Wednesday, 7pm at Ynares Arena in Antipolo. Meralco looks to break their losing skid against Barako Bull next Friday, 4pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
NLEX 89 – Thornton 36, Canaleta 16, Villanueva J. 8, Taulava 8, Lingganay 7, Borboran 6, Villanueva E. 4, Cardona 2, Apinan 2, Ramos 0, Arboleda H. 0.
MERALCO 76 – David 28, Davis 19, Cortez 10, Hodge 8, Anthony 5, Dillinger 4, Hugnatan 2, Reyes 0, ATkins 0, Wilson 0, Ferriols 0, Sena 0.
Quarters: 18-14, 45-35, 63-56, 89-76