Henry Bill Walker finally gained enough offensive support from local teammates to send Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) to a 111-99 come-from-behind win over Rain or Shine in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governors’ Cup on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Down by a huge 21-point deficit at the halftime, the Road Warriors employed a trapping defense in the second half forcing the Elasto Painters to commit a lot of turnovers and regain their momentum on the way to fourth win after nine games.
“The game was really for my players, they didn’t give up,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez during the post game interview. “I’ am happy our players didn’t give up. Garvo [Lanete] shot those threes in the fourth quarter.”
The 6’5 import Walker racked up 23 points on 8-of-21 shooting in the field, including three treys, to lead the Road Warriors in addition also to his 12 rebounds and six assists, while rookie guard Garvo Lanete dazzled with 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the three-point zone.
NLEX improved to 4-5 win-loss record.
“Enrico [Villanueva] and Jonas [Villanueva] stepped up,” he added. “We were coming off two straight losses, but it is really nice to get a win though. Giving ourselves a chance to fight another day for the playoffs. It will be a tough last two games for us.”
Veteran power forward Enrico Villanueva piled up 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting in the field, while hard working forward Sean Anthony added 12 points and eight rebounds. Glenn Khobuntin contributed 10 points also for NLEX.
Rain or Shine relied on strong running game to establish a 30-12 lead and 52-42 at the halftime break. They even established a huge 48-27 advantage before the first half ends. But NLEX outscored Rain or Shine in the second half to seize the advantage.
Walker nailed a long two-pointer to give the Road Warriors their first taste of the lead, 83-81, in the early part of fourth period. Anthony’s jumper and Walker’s long triple pushed NLEX’s advantage to 101-92 with only 2:38 remaining in the game.
Rain or Shine couldn’t recover from thereon.
Guard Paul Lee led 21 points plus six rebounds and five assists to lead Rain or Shine but couldn’t get solid numbers from new import Jason Forte, who finished only with seven points on a dismal 1-of-8 shooting in the field plus six rebounds.
The Elasto Painters fell to 4-5 win-loss record that also tied the Road Warriors’ record.
NLEX 111 – Walker 23, Lanete 21, Villanueva E. 14, Anthony 12, Khobuntin 10, Alas 8, Villanueva J. 7, Taulava 6, Arboleda 5, Baracael 5, Monfort 0, Akl 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 99 – Lee 23, Chan 18, Cruz 16, Quinahan 11, Ahanmisi 8, Forte 7, Norwood 6, Nimes 3, Belga 3, Almazan 2, Trollano 2.
Quarters: 12-30, 42-52, 71-75, 111-99