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NLEX keeps slim playoff hope alive with OT rout of Blackwater

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Down by 17 midway through the third quarter, it seemed like all hopes were gone for NLEX.

Captain Hook came to the rescue.

Mark Cardona banked on his patented teardrops to help the Road Warriors spark a second half rally that kept them in the game, import Michael Madanly fired crucial triples in the dying moments of regulation that nearly helped them steal the win, and Kwame Alexander finished the job in overtime as they completed a 30-point turnaround and mauled the Blackwater Elite, 102-89, in the nightcap of the PBA Governors' Cup games on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With NLEX trailing, 45-62, with 6:33 remaining in the third frame, Cardona continued what Alexander started as he made four consecutive floaters and capped a 15-5 run with a triple to cut the deficit to seven, 60-67, early in the fourth period.

Blackwater tried to pull away again as a 9-2 rally of its own stretched the lead to 14, 76-62, with 8:52 left in the quarter. Despite conceding four straight points, the team responded to every NLEX basket and maintained an 85-75 cushion with 2:36 to go.

But a 12-0 run highlighted by three treys from Madanly and capped by another field goal from Cardona gave the Road Warriors the lead, 87-85, with 47 seconds left in regulation.

They had a chance to extend the lead as Jerick Cañada missed on his own jumper in the next plays, but Asi Taulava misfired on his own shot and Marcus Cousin blocked Cardona's follow-up. They completely lost the ball when Brian Heruela stole the ball off a bad pass by Jonas Villanueva.

Raphy Reyes missed a potential equalizer on the other end. Cousin, however, grabbed the offensive rebound and got fouled by Madanly while going for the second serving. Cousin made two free throws with 0.9 second left to force overtime. KG Canaleta muffed a potential game-winning triple for NLEX at the buzzer.

Alexander delivered the killer blow for the Road Warriors as he scored 11 of their first 13 points in overtime to pull away from the Elite.

Alexander finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, and one steal for NLEX, which can steal a spot in the quarterfinals despite having a 3-7 record. The club will face Ginebra in the last day of eliminations on June 24.

Madanly and Cardona chipped in 18 and 16 markers respectively.

Cousin led the also-ran Blackwater with 29 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, and one block.

Box Scores:

NLEX 102-Alexander 26, Madanly 18, Cardona 16, Taulava 10, J. Villanueva 9, Wilson 8, Borboran 5, Lingganay 4, W. Arboleda 3, Ramos 2, Canaleta 1, E. Villanueva 0, Raymundo 0

Blackwater 89-Cousin 29, Cañada 11, Heruela 9, Reyes 9, Erram 8, Faundo 6, Laure 5, Ballesteros 4, Salvacion 3, Cervantes 3, Gamalinda 2, Acuña 0

Quarterscores: 25-25, 44-38, 67-57, 87-87, 102-89