SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–NLEX rode the hot hands of Jericho Cruz to pull off a massive 94-74 victory against Rain or Shine for its first back-to-back wins in the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday here.
Cruz scattered away 12 of his 17 points in the pivotal fourth quarter as the Road Warriors cruised to a second straight triumph following their 109-98 stunner over the TNT Tropang Giga last week.
After a slow start in the bubble, NLEX is now 3-5 and remains in the race to the playoffs, thanks to a change in mentality applied by coach Yeng Guiao.
“I really took the pressure off the players. Sabi ko, ang gusto lang natin gawin dito parang nasa training camp lang tayo,” said Guiao.
“Dati pressured na pressured kami manalo eh wala naman sa kondisyon nung una. I think that compounded our problems. But after a while, ‘yun nga sabi ko relax lang tayo, parang training camp na lang ‘to, saka na lang natin ayusin ‘yung sistema,” he added.
“It’s working for us. I hope it’s not too late.”
Kevin Alas topscored with 18 points to go with six rebounds and two assists while JR Quiñahan chipped in 13 markers and six boards.
Rey Nambatac had 15 points and Jewel Ponferada had 10 markers for the Elasto Painters, who slipped to 4-2.
NLEX 94 — Alas 18, Cruz 17, Quiñahan 13, Soyud 9, Miranda 8, Ravena 7, Semerad 7, Paniamogan 5, Galanza 5, Varilla 3, McAloney 2, Ayonayon 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 74 — Nambatac 15, Ponferada 10, Norwood 7, Rivero 7, Rosales 7, Torres 7, Belga 7, Mocon 5, Borboran 5, Wong 3, Onwubere 1, Tolentino 0, Yap 0, Doliguez 0, Araña 0.
Quarters: 24-18, 42-39, 64-57, 94-74