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NLEX completes comeback to stun ROS

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--NLEX rallied from 13 points down to spoil Rain Or Shine's PBA Philippine Cup semifinal bid with a 111-106 victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday night.

Sean Anthony scored the Road Warriors' last eight points to complete the come-from-behind fashion and deprive the Elasto Painters not just the outright Final Four seat but the top seed as well.

ROS led NLEX, 86-73, late in the third quarter, but a 10-2 run ended the period with the latter just behind by five, 83-88.

The Elasto Painters tried to pull away anew, scoring on back-to-back possessions to stretch their lead to seven, 92-85.

But the Road Warriors answered with seven straight points to tie the game, 92-all, and responded to every made shots from their opponents to stay toe-to-toe.

Rain Or Shine had one final attack, scoring four unanswered points to take the lead one more time, 104-100.

But Jonas Villanueva completed a three-point play and Anthony added a field goal and a free throw to give NLEX a 106-104 edge.

Jewel Ponferada still equalized for the E-Painters with two charities, but Anthony made the go-ahead basket with 21.7 seconds remaining and sealed the Road Warriors' win with a completed and-one off a Mark Cardona steal.

Anthony finished with 37 points on 13-of-20 shooting along with five assists for NLEX, which finished the eliminations tied with Barako Bull, which lost earlier Saturday to Alaska, in seventh place but will become the seventh seed come the playoffs by virtue of the winner-over-the-other rule.

Beau Belga led ROS with 18 markers, but his team played without him for the final 2:35 of the game as he incurred his sixth foul.

The loss relegated the Elasto Painters to the first round of the playoffs with the Aces and the San Miguel Beermen getting the outright semifinal seats. The Painters, however, finished third and will have a twice-to-beat advantage against the winner of the Blackwater-Mahindra game on Sunday in the next stage.

Box Scores:

NLEX 111-Anthony 37, Taulava 15, J. Villanueva 14, Cardona 11, Alas 9, Lanete 7, Enciso 6, Reyes 6, Villanueva E. 6, Borboran 0, Khobuntin 0

Rain Or Shine 106-Belga 18, Chan 15, Ponferada 13, Tiu 11, Almazan 10, Cruz 9, Nimes 9, Quinahan 6, Ahanmisi 5, Norwood 5, Teng 3, Matias 2, Trollano 0

Quarterscores: 33-32, 56-61, 83-88, 111-106

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno