|Calvin Oftana was wide open for the game-winner. PBA Images|
MANILA—NLEX lived to fight another day in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals after Calvin Oftana hit the game winning layup for an 81-80 victory over Meralco in their duel at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Bolts, who have secured a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, put the Road Warrriors to early trouble as Raul Soyud quickly picked up 3 fouls with only 4 minutes burned in the first period.
Allein Maliksi was hot from downtown finishing the first quarter with 11 points off three triples as the Bolts ended the quarter ahead, 26-20.
The Road Warriors didn't let the Bolts pull away in the second period and entered halftime ahead, 44-42.
The Bolts didn't hold back and retaliated against the Road Warriors in the third period, retaking the lead, 64-63.
NLEX stifled Meralco in the early goings of the fourth quarter and retook the lead, 75-70, with four minutes left.
The Bolts responded anew, and after a Reynel Hugnatan layup, they got back the lead, 80-79, with 48 seconds to go.
They had a chance to put more pressure on the Road Warriors after Oftana missed a three-pointer, but Mac Belo missed 2 free throws and JR Quiñahan got the rebound to give a chance for the Road Warriors to win it with 7.5 seconds remaining,
Oftana then quickly moved inside and converted a Jericho Cruz assist off the inbound for the win even as the Bolts couldn’t convert a shot in the end after they were forced to a Cliff Hodge attempt that Quiñahan blocked.
Anthony Semerad scored 23 points, just one off his PBA career-high, on five triples, four rebounds, and one steal for NLEX, which forced a do-or-die game on Friday.
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