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Fonacier sizzles late as NLEX downs SMB

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Larry Fonacier came up big at the dying moments as NLEX stunned San Miguel, 103-100, in the main game of the PBA Governors' Cup Sunday night twinbill at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Fonacier made two crucial triples and the game-saving block as the Road Warriors preserved the win despite the Beermen crawling back from 15 points down.

NLEX went to a hot start, opening a 25-10 lead with 2:54 left in the first quarter.

But SMB slowly crawled back and took a four-point lead, 91-87, with 5:20 to go in the fourth period.

The Road Warriors then went on a 6-0 run to retake the lead, 93-91, with 3:36 to go.

After an exchange of baskets, Fonacier buried a booming trey with 1:49 left that put NLEX up, 98-95.

SMB never gave up as a Wendell McKines basket cut the lead down to one, 98-97, with 50 seconds left.

Fonacier, however, kept the Road Warriors with another booming triple from top of the key to stretch the gap to four, 101-97, with 23.9 seconds left.

Arwind Santos opted to go for a quick triple with 16 seconds left that rimmed out, and Fonacier grabbed the huge board before getting fouled by Chris Ross.

Kevin Alas, however, nearly lost the ball in the ensuing possession. Luckily, he saved the ball to JR Quiñahan, who would make two free throws after a foul by Santos with 13 seconds remaining to make it 103-97.

Alex Cabagnot made things interesting as he made a three-pointer with five seconds left to cut the lead down to three, 103-100.

Alex Mallari opened the door for the Beermen to force overtime as he missed two free throws in the next play, leaving them 3.2 seconds to set up the three-pointer, but Fonacier saved the day for the Road Warriors as he blocked Cabagnot's corner triple try at the final buzzer.

Aaron Fuller led NLEX, which moved up to 6-2 and has virtually secured a place in the quarterfinals with three games to spare, with 26 points, 22 rebounds, one assist, two blocks, and two steals.

Quiñahan also tallied a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds alongside one assist.

Fonacier added 16 points on 4-of-5 triples, four rebounds, three assists, one assist, and two blocks.

McKines led SMB with 28 points, 14 rebounds, six dimes, and two steals, while Cabagnot, Santos, and Marcio Lassiter each added 19 markers.

Box Scores:

NLEX 103-Fuller 26, Quiñahan 17, Fonacier 16, Mallari 10, Tiongson 8, Alas 7, Soyud 7, Baguio 5, J. Villanueva 3, Lastimosa 2, Al-Hussaini 2, Taulava 0

San Miguel 100-McKines 28, Lassiter 19, Santos 19, Cabagnot 19, Fajardo 6, Ross 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Espinas 2, Heruela 1, Tubid 0

Quarterscores: 25-24, 48-39, 68-70, 103-100

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