A strong second half surge propelled NLEX past Terrafirma, 108-94, for its second win in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Kevin Alas paced NLEX with 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting alongside five rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block, while JR Quinahan fired 19 points built around three triples off the bench.
Rookie Calvin Oftana had the best game of his young professional career so far by tallying 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with seven boards, two dimes and a block in a start, and Jericho Cruz also fueled the second unit by adding 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting along with four boards, four assists, two steals and a block.
Anthony Semerad also came up with 13 for NLEX, which even its slate in the conference at 2-2.
"This Terrafirma team is strong. I think the rookies, their young guys have potential. They put up a good fight, actually," coach Yeng Guiao remarked.
The Road Warriors fell behind by as many as nine in the second quarter but recovered and turned the game around right after halftime, where Guiao's wards turned a nip and tuck contest into a double-digit lead late in the third.
Ahead by 57-54 at the 5:37 mark, NLEX outscored Terrafirma 14-3 in the next three minutes behind Oftana, Semerad and Alas, who topped off that blast with a triple to make it a 71-57 advantage.
A furious 15-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters made it possible for the Dyip to come within one with just under a minute into the payoff period, but NLEX quickly regained control behind Cruz and Quinahan, who stabilized the Road Warriors offense and nailed back-to-back triples to widen the gap back to double-digits, 91-80, and prevent Terrafirma from ever coming back in the game.
It was basically a tale of two halves for both teams. NLEX shot just 41 percent overall and made just 3-of-16 triples (18.8 percent), but the team caught fire in the last two quarters of play and made 59.5 percent from the field, including 7-of-13 3s.
Terrafirma, meanwhile, buried 7-for-16 shots from long range(43.8 percent) in the opening quarters but cooled off and hit only three more while shooting a paltry 36.2 percent during that span.
"They had a pretty high percentage from the three-point half in the first half. That's why they managed to get a headstart early on," Guiao noted. "So we just tried to hang in there and put on the extra effort to stop them from sustaining their very high percentage from the three-point line in the second half. When their shooting fell off, that's when we got our rhythm and we made our three-point shots."
Terrafirma, now 0-2, was led by 46th Rookie Draft top overall pick Joshua Munzon's 24 points on 8-for-16 shooting, 14 coming in the first half
Aldrech Ramos added 17 on 3-for-3 shooting from downtown, and Andreas Cahilig finished with 10 for the Dyip.
NLEX 108 - Alas 21, Quinahan 19, Oftana 16, Cruz 15, Semerad 13, Soyud 7, Ravena 5, Porter 4, Trollano 4, Miranda 4.
Terrafirma 94 - Munzon 24, Ramos 17, Cahilig 10, Adams 9, McCarthy 8, Calvo 7, Rosser 6, Tiongson 5, Laput 4, Gabayni 2, Celda 2, Balagasay 0, Batiller 0.
Quarter scores: 23-25, 41-44, 73-67, 108-94.
- Kiefer Ravena came off the bench and only scored five points on 1-for-8 shooting, but he had seven assists, four rebounds and a steal in just 22 minutes. His +18 was a game-high.
- Raul Soyud, the current per-game league leader in offensive rebounds among players who have played at least two games, grabbed five more and finished with 12 boards in 31 minutes.
- Terrafirma vs. Magnolia on Friday, July 30, at 12:30 p.m
- NLEX vs. TNT on Friday, July 30, at 6:00 p.m