|Ola Ashaolu got the last laugh over Denzel Bowles. PBA Images|
By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY--NLEX survived a huge endgame push from Rain Or Shine and escaped with a 100-97 win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.
Behind a solid second and third quarters, the Road Warriors were on pace of a blowout, leading by 17 points, 81-64, entering the final frame.
But the Elasto Painters came back in the fourth and were within one, 97-98, with 33 seconds remaining.
They even had a chance to steal the win as they forced a 24-second violation on the Road Warriors with only seven seconds left.
However, Poy Erram saved the day for NLEX as he swatted Denzel Bowles's layup attempt, and Olu Ashaolu, who recovered the ball, made two charities off a Gabe Norwood foul with 5.1 seconds left to provide the team more cushion.
Bowles tried to force overtime, but his three-point attempt missed the mark at the final buzzer.
Ashaolu, who replaced Tony Mitchell in an early buildup for the Governors' Cup, made a triumphant return for the Road Warriors with 26 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and one steal as they moved up to 2-7, keeping what is left of their quarterfinal hopes alive.
Jericho Cruz added 15 points, six rebounds, and six assists off the bench.
Bowles came up with 35 markers, nine boards, three dimes, one block, and one steal for the Elasto Painters, who fell to 3-3.
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