Kevin Alas came through with a spectacular performance in the last quarter as Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) recovered from a nine-point third quarter deficit to nip Blackwater, 93-90, on Sunday in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Season 43 Philippine Cup at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Alas, who committed six frustrating turnovers in a win over Alaska last week, turned out to be a hero this time as he poured in a career-high 25 points points, including four of his crucial five three-pointers in the fourth period, plus eight rebounds and five assists to send the Road Warriors in the quarterfinals with a 6-4 win-loss record.
“Kevin Alas saved the day for us when he made some fantastic shots and I was surprised,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. “He (Alas) proves himself not only as a slasher but also an outside threat so it is going to be hard to guard him.”
Down by 65-74 at the end of third period, the Road Warriors fired five triples — four coming from Alas in the final canto — and Alas scored on a lay-up to seize the lead, 82-78, with still 8:12 left in the game.
Cyrus Baguio extended NLEX’s lead to 84-78 with 6:59 to go but Blackwater refused to give up the fight and keep the game at jabbing distance.
After getting a foul on Alex Mallari during inbound play with just 10 seconds left, Maliksi scored the first free throw and missed the second one for a 90-93 deficit. The Elite grabbed the offensive rebound in the dying seconds but Mac Belo muffed a potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired.
Rookie Kiefer Ravena scattered 23 points while Juami Tiongson had nine points and Jay-R Quinahan contributed eight points also for the Road Warriors, who also towed Alaska in the quarterfinals (6-4) after their victory.
Mike Digregorio made 16 points while, JP Erram scored 14 points and 17 rebounds and rookie Raymar Jose had 14 points to lead the Elite, who fell to 4-6 win-loss record.
NLEX 93 – Alas 25, Ravena 23, Tiongson 9, Quinahan 8, Al-Hussaini 6, Mallari 5, Baguio 5, Soyud 4, Ighalo 3, Miranda 3, Fonacier 2, Taulava 0, Gotladera 0.
BLACKWATER 90 – Digregorio 16, Jose 14, Erram 14, Maliksi 13, Sena 12, Belo 10, Palma 6, Marcelo 5, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 23-20, 41-46, 65-74, 93-90.