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NLEX survives wild finish to pip Meralco

PBA
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--NLEX bucked off a poor third quarter but still needed to go through a down-the-wire finale to beat Meralco, 93-91, in their PBA Philippine Cup match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday night.

Four nights after leading them to a shocker against the Talk 'n Text Tropang Texters, Sean Anthony delivered the marginal free throws to prevent the Road Warriors from losing steam in the end after letting their lead slip away from them after the intermission.

NLEX built a relatively comfortable 46-37 lead at halftime, but Meralco outscored the team, 30-19, in the third period to take a 67-65 edge.

Both teams engaged in a seesaw battle until the Road Warriors seized control of the game with a six-point cushion, 90-84, with 1:24 left.

The Bolts, however, mounted a 7-0 run, the last five coming from Gary David including a go-ahead triple with 9.8 seconds remaining, to put them up, 91-90.

Jared Dillinger committed a huge blunder when he quickly fouled Anthony, leading to the pair of free throws that gave NLEX a 92-91 edge with 8.8 seconds to go.

David tried to give Meralco the win, but he turned the ball over to NLEX.

Kevin Alas, however, kept the game interesting when he split his charities with 2.6 seconds remaining.

Baser Amer missed a desperation heave at the buzzer to let the Road Warriors escape with the win.

Asi Taulava turned back time anew as he tallied a 20-20 game of 22 points and 21 rebounds along with an assist and a block for the Road Warriors, who have won back-to-back games.

Anthony struggled from the field, but his free throws, including the game-winners, enabled him to still finish with 17 markers.

Chris Newsome had his best game in his rookie season after tallying 21 points, four boards, and four dimes for the Bolts, who fell to 1-6.

Box Scores:

NLEX 93-Taulava 22, Anthony 19, Villanueva 17, Alas 16, Khobuntin 6, Enciso 5, Borboran 3, E. Villanueva 3, Lanete 2, Arboleda 0, Reyes 0

Meralco 91-Newsome 21, David 19, Hodge 14, Al-Hussaini 10, Faundo 10, Dillinger 9, Nabong 4, Atkins 2, Hugnatan 2, Alapag 0, Amer 0

Quarterscores: 24-18, 46-37; 65-67; 93-91

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno