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NLEX survives Blackwater scare for first win

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Despite its first round pick, Arth Dela Cruz, playing in the NCAA Finals on Friday night, Blackwater appeared to show grit thanks to its other draftees in its PBA season opener against NLEX.

The latter showed its veteran smarts in the end.

The Road Warriors held on despite a gallant stand from the Elite en route to a 90-86 win in the second day of the Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

NLEX slowly crawled back from a first quarter deficit but had to withstand one last hurrah from Blackwater.

The Road Warriors led, 85-78, with 3:22 remaining in the game, but late draftee Keith Agovida led the Elite's one final push, scoring six points in an 8-2 run to trim the lead to one, 87-86, with 31.1 seconds left.

Sean Anthony missed a jumper in the next NLEX possession, but Asi Taulava grabbed the offensive rebound and made two free throws off an ensuing foul to open an 89-86 cushion with 19.3 to go.

Reil Cervantes misfired on a potential equalizing triple, and a split from Anthony settled the matter.

Taulava led the Warriors with 19 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal.

Agovida, on the other hand, top scored for the Elite with 15 markers along with five caroms, three dimes, and one swat.

Box Scores:

NLEX 90-Taulava 19, Enciso 15, Anthony 14, Borboran 10, J. Villanueva 8, Apinan 6, Cardona 5, Reyes 5, Alas 4, Khobuntin 4, Arboleda 0

Blackwater 86-Agovida 15, Reyes 13, Cervantes 12, Ballesteros 10, Lastimosa 7, Gamalinda 6, Sena 6, Cortez 5, Canada 3, Erram 2, Golla 2, Bulawan 0, Vosotros 0

Quarterscores:17-26; 41-42; 60-59; 90-86