NLEX snaps skid in hard-fought match against Ginebra

NLEX snaps skid in hard-fought match against Ginebra

Larry Fonacier came up with a vintage performance for NLEX. PBA Media Bureau
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--The Ginebra-NLEX match was supposed to take place at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation in Legazpi.

The recent activity of the Mayon Volcano, however, forced the match to be moved to the Cuneta Astrodome here.

Still, the match did not lack fireworks, but the Road Warriors came up with huge plays down the stretch.

NLEX leaned on a huge fourth quarter to subdue Ginebra, 81-78, in the lone PBA Philippine Cup showdown on Saturday night.

Larry Fonacier, Cyrus Baguio, Alex Mallari, and JR Quinahan came out with solid outputs for the Road Warriors in the final half as they led the team's final charge to upend the Barangay.

Ginebra appeared to have quickly shut down NLEX in the first half as Japeth Aguilar found his stroke with 17 quick points and Kiefer Ravena could not find his touch as the perennial crowd darlings led, 43-35, at halftime and opened the third quarter on a 7-1 run for the team's largest lead at 14, 50-36.

But Mallari came alive in the rest of the third period and led the Road Warriors' gallant stand that cut the lead down to four, 59-55, come the final canto.

The Barangay still tried to pull away as they were up, 73-66, with 7:29 left, but the Road Warriors went on a 9-0 run that gave them the lead, 75-73, with 5:07 to play.

Ginebra still got four straight points from Aguilar and Greg Slaughter to retake the lead, 77-75, with 4:37 left.

But Quinahan scored back-to-back baskets that put NLEX up for good, 79-77, with 1:57 to go.

The Barangay had a chance to equalize, but Aguilar opted to go for the lead with a corner three that he overshot.

Luckily for them, Greg Slaughter got the offensive rebound and fished a foul from Mike Miranda while going for the putback.

However, Slaughter, who struggled from the line, only made one of two from the charity stripe, and Mallari collared the rebound with 4.2 seconds left.

Drama ensued before play resumed as Coach Tim Cone was called for a technical foul for going to the official's table, and Fonacier hit the technical free throw to up the lead to two, 80-78.

Ravena somehow opened a window of opportunity for Ginebra to force overtime as he made a split of his own, but with only 0.4 second left and without a timeout to use, the team had to go for a full-court pass that NLEX picked.

Fonacier finished with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting with one rebound, two assists, and one steal, while Quinahan added 14 points and five rebounds for the Road Warriors, who snapped a four-game slide.

Baguio had 13 markers all in the second half with 11 coming in the final frame, while Mallari finished with 11.

Aguilar only had four markers the rest of the way and finished with 21 points for the Barangay, who fell to a tie with their tormentors at 3-4.

Box Scores:

NLEX 81-Fonacier 17, Quinahan 14, Baguio 13, Mallari 11, Ravena 7, Taulava 5, Tiongson 4, Alas 4, Soyud 2, Miranda 2, Ighalo 2, Uyloan 0

Ginebra 78-J. Aguilar 21, Tenorio 12, R. Aguilar 9, Thompson 8, Cruz 8, Ferrer 6, Mercado 5, Caguioa 0, Taha 0.

Quarterscores: 19-20, 35-43, 55-59, 81-78

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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