LAGUNA -- NLEX came out on top in a shootout against Blackwater, 115-109, to stay unscathed in the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex.
Olu Ashaolu tallied 31 points and 10 rebounds, while Kiefer Ravena finished with 25 points on 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range as the Road Warriors improved to 3-0 to regain solo lead in the standings.
Ray Parks scored 28 points and knocked down 6-for-11 shots from long range for the Elite, who sunk to 0-2. He also added six assists, four boards and two steals.
Both squads combined to make 37 3s in a game, a new PBA record. This shattered the old mark set by San Miguel and TNT, who both combined for 35 triples last June 6 in the Commissioner's Cup.
NLEX shot 18-for-31 (58.1 percent) on 3s continued the team's hot shooting from distance in its first two games -- 35-for-73 (47.9 percent) against Meralco and Phoenix.
"We knew we were shooting our 3-point shots well coming into this game, but we never imagined we would some sort of a record together with the other team. It's a pleasant surprise maybe for the fans because they get to enjoy that kind of shooting performance. But those things don't last. At some point it's gonna stop and you better be ready with playing good defense and just executing your regular offense," said coach Yeng Guiao.
The former national team coach said that shooting from distance is not a new focus for his team.
"Even before I went to [the] FIBA [World Cup], we already emphasized 3-point shooting. For all my teams. Even our bigs are supposed to shoot the 3-point shot," he said. "I realized how important 3-point shooting is after one year from the Asian Games to the World Cup. It's really important. It's an acquired skill and the harder you work, the better you get."
But Guiao doesn't want NLEX to rely on the deep ball all the time. "Those things don't last. At some point it's gonna stop and you better be ready with playing good defense and just executing your regular offense," he said.
While Guiao would have wanted a better showing from that end of the floor from his Road Warriors, the team wouldn't have gotten the job done if it wasn't able to successfully trade triples with Blackwater. In fact, it was two 3s from Ravena in the fourth quarter that gave NLEX some much-needed separation, 106-95, to help them finish without a hitch until the final buzzer.
"I'm not surprised," Guiao said. "That's what we expect from Kiefer. I'll be surprised if Kiefer has a bad game. The reason why he's so good is he just does not make himself look good. He makes the other members of the team look good. To me that's the measure of a really good player."
"We've been shooting the three-point shot well the last three games so I hope it continues on the next game in Dubai. We hope our shooting touch is still there, but it's not really the way you want to win the game. You wanna win the game on your defensive stops, on your execution of your defense. But as long as we won tonight, it's fine with me," he added.
NLEX also had solid games from Philip Paniamogan (12 points, 4-for-6 on 3s) and Kenneth Ighalo (4-for-4 3s). The Road Warriors will have a quick turnaround when they'll fly to Dubai to face San Miguel at the Coca-Cola Arena oin October 5.
"'We're just lucky we're consistent with our 3-point shots. That's an incredible feat to sustain it for three games. The problem is maybe we'll run out of that in Dubai. We really need those against San Miguel, Ginebra. Especially Ginebra, we're in trouble since they'll look to bounce back at our expense. We hope we're still able to bring that kind of a game there," said Guiao.
NLEX 115 - Ashaolu 31, Ravena 25, Paniamogan 12, Ighalo 12, Quinahan 10, Varilla 7, Lao 6, Fonacier 5, Galanza 5, Paredes 2, Miranda 0, Cruz 0, Soyud 0.
BLACKWATER 109 - Parks 28, Desiderio 24, Blakely 18, Maliksi 13, Belo 9, Cruz 8, Sumang 3, Cortez 2, Al-Hussaini 2, Alolino 2, DiGregorio 0, Dario 0, Javier 0.
Quarters: 19-25; 52-46; 85-81; 115-109.
- Paul Desiderio had a career-high 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting in the loss. He nailed six threes and also added four assists and four boards.
- Parks heated up in the third quarter and scored 18 points on 4-for-5 threes during that stretch, but he only had three in the final 12 minutes.
- NLEX vs. San Miguel on October 4 at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai, UAE
- Blackwater vs. NorthPort on October 5 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo