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NLEX rallies in second half to stun Meralco


By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Last year, Meralco started the Commissioner's Cup 5-0 before San Miguel snapped it and NLEX turned it to a losing streak.

On Friday night, the Road Warriors handed the Bolts a second straight loss anew.

NLEX used a huge second half explosion to pip Meralco, 104-99, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum six nights after San Miguel ended Meralco's 5-0 start.

Down by as much as 12 early in the third, the Road Warriors slowly crawled back later in the period and eventually took the lead that they would extend to 13 midway into the fourth.

The Bolts still put up a gallant stand late in the final frame, going on a 12-2 run to cut the lead to three, 99-96, with 55 seconds left.

But Simon Enciso buried a clutch triple with 31.3 seconds remaining to extend NLEX's lead to six, 102-96.

Jared Dillinger would answer with a triple of his own to bring the gap back to three, 102-99, with 25 seconds to go, but that would be Meralco's last points of the game as a turnover by Baser Amer and a missed triple from Dillinger hurt the team's cause.

Al Thornton fired 13 of 20 field goals for 38 points along with 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two steals for the Road Warriors.

Arinze Onuaku had a relatively silent scoring outing with only 16 points but also tallying 18 rebounds, one assist, and one block for the Bolts.

Box Scores:

NLEX 104-Thornton 38, Lanete 14, Alas 10, Anthony 9, Taulava 8, Khbuntin 7, E Villanueva 7, Enciso 6, J Villanueva 3, Reyes 2, Arboleda 0, Borboran 0

Meralco 99-Onuaku 16, Amer 14, Dillinger 14, Alapag 11, Ferriols 10, Newsome 10, Faundo 8, Hugnatan 8, Hodge 4, Bono 2, Caram 2, Buenafe 0, David 0

Quarterscores: 24-31, 50-57, 81-79, 104-99

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