Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) denied Kia of a fourth-quarter comeback to claim a 100-93 victory on Saturday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Governor’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
It was the Road Warriors’ second straight win, equaling a franchise-best start of 2-0 under Boyet Fernandez in last season’s Philippine Cup. NLEX managed to pull off a win despite the ejection of its head coach Yeng Guiao in the game.
NLEX almost squandered a 27-point lead (78-51) as Picanto staged a late rally before the Road Warriors turned to Kevin Alas and import Aaron Fuller late in the game to preserve the victory.
“It’s a nice feeling to be putting together a streak and the confidence level is getting better. We are really excited before this game to just keep playing good. We are getting balance effort from everybody,” said Guiao, who was thrown out of the game with 4:19 remaining after committing a second technical foul.
“Aside the balance, we have an import who gives us the scoring and rebounding,” he added.
Fuller tallied 24 points, 19 rebounds and two steals while Alas and Carlo Lastimosa each had 13 markers. JR Quinahan contributed 11 points for NLEX.
Markeith Cummings led all scorers with 30 points on top of 15 rebounds to lead Kia, which dropped to 0-2. Glenn Khobuntin and Chito Jaime tallied 15 and 13 points, respectively, for the Picanto.
Khobuntin, a former Road Warrior, anchored Kia’s 14-0 run in the third period to narrow the gap, 68-80, with 1:45 left in that stage.
Kia came closer at 83-90 on Reden Celda’s technical free throw and Cummings hit a triple to push Picanto within six, 86-92, 3:05 remaining in the game.
But NLEX countered with a crucial 6-2 exchange capped by Quinahan’s two free throws to push their lead back to 10, 98-88, under a minute left in the contest.
Kia absorbed its second straight loss in the season-ending conference.
Meanwhile, GlobalPort is parading Murphy Holloway on its next game against Phoenix on Wednesday.
Holloway replaced Jabril Trawick, who had a disappointing debut in Batang Pier’s 96-98 loss to Rain or Shine last Friday. Trawick ended up with just three points in what turned out to be his final PBA game.
NLEX 100 – Fuller 24, Alas 13, Lastimosa 13, Quiñahan 11, Taulava 8, Al-Hussaini 6, Mallari 6, Soyud 6, Baracael 5, Villanueva 5, Fonacier 3, Ighalo 0, Tiongson 0, Monfort 0, Rios 0.
KIA 93 – Cummings 30, Khobuntin 15, Jaime 13, Celda 8, Paniamogan 6, Elorde 6, Yee 4, Corpuz 4, Camson 3, Salva 2, Nimes 2, Caperal 0, Galanza 0, Teng 0, Ballesteros 0.
Quarter scores: 36-18, 64-40, 83-70, 100-93.