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Walker drops 44 as NLEX blitzes past Blackwater

PBA

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Henry Walker quickly impressed in his first game in an NLEX uniform as his new club trounced Blackwater, 96-90, in the second day of the PBA Governors' Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.

Originally scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. tip-off but moved to 3 p.m. following an announcement by the league prior to the start of the game, the former Alaska import somewhat did not care about the fixture tweak and fired 44 points on a Blackwater side still reeling from the sudden loss of Gilbert Bulawan.

The Road Warriors quickly opened a double-digit lead behind Walker's explosion and appeared to be heading to a smooth ride to their first win of the season-ending conference.

But the Elite, led by Carlo Lastimosa, put up a late fight, cutting what was once a 17-point cushion down to just four, 94-90, with only seven seconds left.

Mac Baracael evaded the Blackwater defense trying to stop the clock by fouling and scored the insurance basket for NLEX.

Walker needed 25 shots for his 44 markers, making 15 of them including six triples, while also tallying six boards, two dimes, and two steals for the Road Warriors.

Their other foreign player, Lebanese player Rodrigue Akl, struggled in his PBA debut, ending the game scoreless in nearly 19 minutes of play.

Eric Dawson fired 27 points, 17 rebounds, three assists, four blocks, and two steals, while Lastimosa added 16 points, two rebounds, two assists, and one steal for the Elite.

Bulawan, who passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest during team practice on July 3, was posthumously honored by the league by retiring his number 11 jersey, becoming the first Blackwater player to have his kit retired in their young franchise history. He was laid to rest on Friday.

Box Scores:

NLEX 96-Walker 44, Alas 12, Baracael 12, Villanueva J. 11, Taulava 5, Soyud 4, Forrester 3, Lanete 3, Villanueva E. 2, Akl 0, Khobuntin 0, Monfort 0, Reyes 0

Blackwater 90-Dawson 27, Lastimosa 16, Cortez 14, Sena 8, Sumang 8, Canada 5, Pascual 5, Gamalinda 4, Dela Cruz 2, Erram 1, Cervantes 0

Quarterscores: 31-16, 53-39, 78-68, 96-90

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno