A fourth quarter surge propelled the NLEX Road Warriors into the win column in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup after disposing the NorthPort Batang Pier, 102-88, Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena.
After clinging to just a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Road Warriors unleashed a game-changing 19-1 run to seize their first victory after four outings. From a 77-76 lead, NLEX converted on key offensive possessions capped off by an and-1 play from Kiefer Ravena to make it 96-78 with four and half minutes remaining.
Ravena led all scorers with 25 points on 70 percent shooting from the field and went a perfect 10-for-10 from the line. He also contributed five rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Kevin Alas likewise had a significant game as he tallied 16 points, 10 boards, and six dimes. Big man JR Quiñahan netted 17 points in the much-needed win.
"It's definitely more difficult than usual because of the unique circumstances that we're in," NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said on how his team persevered despite its 0-3 start. "We were just trying to be positive as much as we can. We felt that we could sustain our energy, if we could just lift each other up and be positive, maybe we can still make something out of this tournament. It's a good thing that we were able to do that."
NLEX's fourth quarter barrage was notably a welcome sight for coach Guiao who was waiting for his team to have enough firepower in the endgame.
"We were able to sustain our energy. Our past three losses we were good for two or three quarters, at least for now, we lasted until the fourth quarter," said the coach. NorthPort, meanwhile, remains winless after four tries.
Kevin Ferrer dropped 18 points while Sean Manganti contributed 16 points. Unfortunately for Batang Pier, they got little out of Christian Standhardinger as he struggled with just seven points. Although he did have 13 rebounds and five assists, his team needed his scoring in the paint.
The PBA pushed through with its scheduled games hours after commissioner Willie Marcial announced that a referee was found to be a suspect case for COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon.
The league was given the green light by the Clark Development Corporation to proceed with its games as stricter safety measures were implemented. The referee has been moved to quarantine area in the Athletes' Village.
NLEX 102 - Ravena 25, Quinahan 17, Alas 16, Cruz 10, Miranda 9, Porter 8, Soyud 7, Ayonayon 6, Ighalo 2, McAloney 2, Galanza 0, Semerad 0, Paniamogan 0, Galanza 0
NORTHPORT 88 - Manganti 16, Ferrer 18, Lanete 13, Revilla 8, Elorde 8, Standhardinger 7, Taha 6, Subido 6, Cruz 0, Anthony 0, Nabong 2
Quarters : 20-15, 49-39, 75-68,102-88
NorthPort's Sean Anthony suffered a suspected pulled hamstring in the first half. He went scoreless in just six and a half minutes of action, but did have two rebounds and three assists.
After scoring just two points in the third quarter in its previous game against Rain or Shine, NorthPort dropped 29 points versus NLEX.
NLEX vs Meralco Bolts, 4 p.m. on Oct. 23
NorthPort vs Terrafirma Dyip, 4 p.m. on Oct. 24