Northern Luzon Express-way (NLEX) escaped Phoenix Petroleum, 116-114, to end its campaign in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup on a bright note at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo on Saturday.
Though out of the race for the quarterfinals berth, the Road Warriors played with pride the entire game finishing the conference with a 2-9 win-loss record after notching their second consecutive win.
“We just wanted to make a good last impression going for the third conference,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. “We’re trying to get confident and have a positive feeling. That’s what we can do so far with the situation.”
“It is working and I’m satisfied since there are good signs. I hope it continues and I just want to take that time to regroup.”
Combo guard Alex Mallari finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while import Wayne Chism, displaying a good all-around performance, notched 20 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks to lead the Road Warriors.
Quinahan added 14 markers while Kevin Alas and Carlo Lastimosa contributed 10 points each for NLEX.
NLEX grabbed the lead early, 35-22, heading toward the second quarter behind Mallari’s 11 points. The Road Warriors sustained their charge in the second frame en route to a 13-point cushion at halftime, 59-46.
They further stretched the lead to 74-51, after Kevin Alas’ two charities with 6:29 to go in the third canto. But the Fuel Masters initiated a 24-3 run highlighted by Matthew Wright’s three-pointer that resulted in a reduced deficit, 75-77, with 2:29 left before the fourth quarter.
NLEX’s new recruit Jay-R Quinahan unloaded a jumper, 95-83, with still 9:22 to go. The Road Warriors managed to protect their lead until the final buzzer despite Phoenix’s late rally.
Wright notched a career-high 42 points, but not enough to save the Fuel Masters. Phoenix absorbed their seventh loss in 11 games for a 4-7 win-loss record.
NLEX 116 – Mallari 22, Chism 20, Quinahan 14, Lastimosa 10, Alas10, Monfort 9, Al-Hussaini 8, Tiingson 7, Rios 6,Gotladera 4, Taulava 2, Baracael 2, Soyud 2.
PHOENIX 114 – Wright 42, McKay 16, Jazul 13, Baguio 8, Torres 9, W. Wilson 7, Borboran 6, Alolino 5, J. Wilson 5, Intal 2, Dehesa 2, Kramer 0, Miranda 0.
Quarters: 35-22, 59-46, 83-79, 116-114.