Jericho Cruz and JR Quinahan presided over a searing fourth-quarter assault as NLEX nipped returning Terrafirma 108-94, to regain its winning ways in the 46th PBA Philippine Cup Sunday night at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Cruz and Quinahan combined for 17 in a telling 23-9 blast that keyed the Road Warriors’ breakaway to 98-82 from a close two-point contest.
Quinahan fired 19 to backup Kevin Alas’ team-high 21 while Cruz added 15 as the Yeng Guiao-coached squad rebounded from its 93-110 loss to San Miguel last July 21 and improved to a 2-2 record.
The Dyip, who played their first game since July 17, slipped to 0-2.
Guiao said the final score didn’t reflect the struggle the Road Warriors faced against the tough Dyip.
“Malakas na team itong Terrafirma. I think their rookies and young guys have potential. They put up a good fight, actually. They shot the ball well from the three-point line nung first half kaya nahirapan kami,” said Guiao, referring to Terrafirma’s initial 7-of-16 clip (43.8 percent) from deep.
“We just tried to hang in there and it took extra effort to stop them from sustaining their very high percentage three-point shooting.
“Nung medyo bumagsak yung three-point shooting nila, medyo nakabwelo na kami tapos kami nakakuha kami ng three points. I think that was the key, medyo nabaligtad yung three-point shooting sa second half,” he added.
But no doubt, the Dyip are a tough customer, noted Guiao.
“They’re a big team, they’re a very physical team and athletic. Mahirap sila talunin, ” said the veteran mentor.
With top draft pick Joshua Munzon finding his range, the hot-shooting Dyip seized a 36-28 upperhand halfway through the second period.
Led by Alas, NLEX willed itself back and stayed within a manageable three-point deficit at halftime.
The Road Warriors got into the groove after restart and soared to a 13-point spread but the Dyip fought back hard and got to within 73-75 before NLEX made their final surge.
Rookie Calvin Oftana and Anthony Semerad added 16 and 13, respectively, to offset the five-pointer of foul-plagued Kiefer Ravena.
Munzon rifled in a game-high 24 for the Dyip in a big bounceback from his six-point debut versus TNT. Terrafirma returned to action after eight days due to the league’s health and safety protocols. (PBA)
NLEX 108 – Alas 21, Quinahan 19, Oftana 16, Cruz 15, Semerad 13, Soyud 7, Ravena 5, Porter 4, Trollano 4, Miranda 4.
Terrafirma 94 – Munzon 24, Ramos 17, Cahilig 10, Adams 9, McCarthy 8, Calvo 7, Rosser 6, Tiongson 5, Laput 4, Gabayni 2, Celda 2, Balagasay 0, Batiller 0.
Quarterscores: 23-25, 41-44, 73-67, 108-94.