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NLEX banks on 2nd half storm to eliminate Meralco

Earl Clark helped NLEX save its conference momentarily. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

PARAÑAQUE—NLEX turned the tides in the second half to beat Meralco, 92-81, in a PBA Commissioner's Cup battle for survival on Wednesday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

With the loser going home, the Road Warriors fought back from the grave and outscored the Bolts, 53-24, in the final 24 minutes to turn an 18-point halftime deficit into an 11-point win.

Earl Clark exploded for 40 points with 11 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks, while Don Trollano added 16 points, nine rebounds, and one steal for NLEX, which finished its elimination round campaign at 5-7.

NLEX must now hope that Rain Or Shine loses to Magnolia in the final elimination round game on Friday night also at the PhilSports Arena so that the team can still have a chance to make the quarterfinals via the play-in game against ROS.

An Elasto Painters win, however, will still knock the Road Warriors from contention, marking the first time since both Meralco and later on NLEX joined the league that all the three teams owned by Manny Pangilinan missed the quarterfinals altogether.

In his first game against his former team, KJ McDaniels put up 22 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, and four blocks for the now 4-7 Meralco squad, but his efforts went down the drain as the team is now out of contention for a playoff berth even if it beats San Miguel in what would be its final game for the conference also on Friday.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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