NLEX averted NorthPort’s comeback bid in the fourth quarter to claim a 102-88 victory Wednesday night and finally end a bad start in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
The Road Warriors went on a 23-4 blast after the Batang Pier got to within a point early in the payoff period to barge into the win column after losing to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok and Blackwater Elite.
Kiefer Ravena hit 25 points, JR Quinahan scored 17, Kevin Alas produced 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and Jericho Cruz added 10 points for NLEX.
“It’s definitely more difficult than usual because of the unique circumstances that we’re in so we were just trying to be as positive a we can,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. “We felt that if we could sustain our energy, if we could just lift each other up and be positive, maybe we can still make something out of this tournament. It’s a good thing we were able to do that.”
Guiao also said that NLEX got a big break after NorthPort lost Sean Anthony who sat on the bench with 31 seconds left in the first quarter and never returned due to a hamstring problem.
Anthony entered the game averaging 19.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.7 steals.
Teammate Christian Standhardinger, who produced 21.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 steals in the first three games, was held in check with just seven points despite a season-high 13 rebounds, forcing the Batang Pier to look for other sources on offense.
They found one in Kevin Ferrer and rookie Sean Manganti, who sparked an 8-2 NorthPort run to begin the fourth to reduce NLEX’s lead to 77-76. But Alas and Ravena combined for 10 in a 14-1 response, putting the Road Warriors ahead 91-77 with under six minutes to go.
Ferrer finished with 18 points while Manganti registered a season-high 16 points with four rebounds and three assists as the Batang Pier remained winless after four games.
NLEX 102 — Ravena 25, Quinahan 17, Alas 16, Cruz 10, Miranda 9, Porter 8, Soyud 7, Ayonayon 6, Ighalo 2, McAloney 2, Semerad 0, Galanza 0, Paniamogan 0.
NORTHPORT 88 — Ferrer 18, Manganti 16, Lanete 13, Taha 10, Elorde 8, Revilla 8, Standhardinger 7, Subido 6, Nabong 2, Anthony 0, Cruz 0, Guinto 0.
Quarters: 20-15, 49-39, 75-68, 102-88.