The Yeng Guiao-era starts off on a high note for the NLEX Road Warriors
Sean Anthony and Jonas Villanueva did not want to disappoint their new mentor, helping the NLEX Road Warriors claw their way to a 99-97 overtime win over the Alaska Aces, Friday evening at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Anthony filled up the stat sheet with 21 points, 14 rebounds and two steals. Bradwyn Guinto had a double-double off the bench with 17 points and 10 boards while Jonas Villanueva chipped in 16 markers.
“We need games like this to build character and strengthen our team’s personality. We’re lucky they missed four shots in the end and [Calvin] Abueva is not yet playing,” Guiao said. “Dati maikli lang yung rotation nila [NLEX], ngayon we give minutes to give guys who had insufficient minutes before for our system. This is a good way to start it.”
The Road Warriors rallied back from being down 62-50 after a Kevin Racal triple during the third frame. Behind their grinding defense, the Road Warriors were able to put up a run of their own bridging the last two quarters.
A lay-up by Bradwyn Guinto tied the game at 88-all with a minute left in the game. A stop gave NLEX a chance to win it but Carlo Lastimosa’s heave with three seconds left clanged off the rim.
Guinto and Antony made free throws extended NLEX’s lead to four to seemingly ice the game with over a minute to go. After Lastimosa made another freebie to counter a triple by Chris Banchero, Alaska had one last possession to try and extend it anew. Fortunately for the Road Warriors, RJ Jazul missed a reverse layup, while three more putback attempts by the Aces did not find the bottom of the rim.
Rookie Carl Cruz led Alaska with 20 points on 4-of-7 shooting from distance to go along with 14 rebounds. Vic Manuel added 19 markers. However, both players fouled out in the final frame.
NLEX (1-0) will next face the Meralco Bolts, while Alaska( 0-1) will have a showdown against the San Miguel Beermen (1-0) in a Finals rematch from last season. Both games will be played next Saturday, December 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
NLEX (99) – Anthony 21, Guinto 17, Villanueva J. 16, Lastimosa 15, Alas 6, Soyud 6, Khobuntin 5, Baracael 5, Lanete 3, Rios 3, Taulava 2, Monfort 0, Camson 0, Villanueva E. 0.
Alaska (97) – Cruz 20, Manuel 19, Baclao 12, Jazul 10, Racal 9, Dela Cruz 7, Banchero 5, Casio 5, Hontiveros 5, Magat 3, Mendoza 2, Exciminiano 0. Galliguez 0.
Quarterscores: 28-17, 46-53, 65-67, 99-97