Through a strong surge in the second half, the NLEX Road Warriors welcomed the 2017 with a win after turning back TNT KaTropa, 110-98, in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup Saturday night at the AUF Gym, in Angeles City, Pampanga.
The Road Warriors now improved to 2-5 to finally put an end to their five-game slide in their previous six outings. The KaTropa, meanwhile, dropped to 4-3 and to the third spot in the standings along with Phoenix.
“It’s a big relief, after that five-game losing streak,” said an upbeat NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao regarding the victory, which helped push themselves steps away from the brink of elimination.
“It’s also special since they [TNT] are title contenders,” furthered Guiao about the big upset on the KaTropa.
Carlo Lastimosa starred for the Road Warriors with 22 points on an excellent 8 for 11 from the field along with three boards and three dimes. Forward Sean Anthony backed him up with a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds.
Eric Camson, who was vital in the third canto surge that saw them lead by 12, 74-62, with 5:34 on the clock after his jumper, shot 5 of 9 from the floor en route to 12 markers. Kevin Alas also had 12, while Bradwyn Guinto added 11 in the victory.
The Road Warriors flipped a 94-93 to a 98-94 lead free throws from Lastimosa in the 4:46 mark of the fourth period. Through Kris Rosales’ own foul shots, TNT closed by two, 98-96, but that deemed to be their last run as NLEX made eight straight points capped by a reverse lay-up by Guinto to ice the match, 106-96, with 2:04 left.
“But it’s just one win for us. It’s still a long way. But it’s a good win for us in the new year. Hopefully it sets the tone for us for the rest of the year,” stated Guiao, who won infront of his fellow Kapampangans.
Only three players led TNT in a losing effort. Jayson Castro led them with 17 markers on a measly 6 of 17 shooting. Kris Rosales and Mo Tautuaa each produced 15 points.
Kelly Williams and Harvey Carey, despite scoring six and five, respectively, combined for 20 rebounds for TNT. As a team, the KaTropa grabbed 60 rebounds overall, nine boards better than NLEX’s output of 51.
The Road Warriors shot better from the field by converting 36 of 82 tries. They also dished the ball better, 23 to 19. And in terms of free throws, they shot 28 out of 50, several charities better than TNT’s 18 of 33.
NLEX will aim to post another win as they face Globalport on January 13, Friday, 4:15 PM at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. TNT on the other hand, will try to bounce back against Star Hotshots on Sunday, January 15, 6:45 PM at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
NLEX (110) – Lastimosa 22, Anthony 13, Alas 12, Camson 12, Guinto 11, J. Villanueva 7, E. Villanueva 7, Rios 6, Baracael 5, Lanete 4, Taulava 3, Monfort 3, Khobuntin 3, Gotladera 2.
TNT (98) – Castro 17, Tautuaa 15, Rosales 15, Fonacier 9, Reyes 7, Rosario 7, De Ocampo 7, Williams 6, Rosser 6, Carey 5, Seigle 4, Golla 0, Pogoy 0, Tamsi 0.
Quarterscores: 26-24, 52-52, 85-81, 110-98