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PBA: DeAndre Williams-Baldwin, Enoch Valdez shine as NLEX keeps playoff hopes alive with win vs Converge

DeAndre Williams-Baldwin had a solid pro basketball debut despite the foul trouble. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—DeAndre Williams-Baldwin made a good impression in his first ever professional basketball game, while fellow pro ball rookie Enoch Valdez played well too as NLEX stayed in contention for a spot in the PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals with a 107-103 win against also-ran Converge on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Despite dealing with foul trouble, the former University of Memphis star made a good account for himself, leading the Road Warriors with 22 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, one block, and three steals.

However, none was more important than Williams-Baldwin's huge three with 1:29 left in the game that gave them a 105-99 cushion and made things harder for the FiberXers, who tried to play spoilers to their last chance at making the playoffs.

Jamil Wilson responded with a three-point play that cut the lead to half, 105-102, with 55 seconds left, but Richie Rodgers added a mid-range jumper that upped the lead back to five, 107-102, with 39 seconds remaining.

Justin Arana had a chance to draw Converge closer, but the reigning PBA Rookie of the Year, who was struggling from the free throw line, only made 1-for-2 on his charities, and team eventually ran out of time in at least bringing the game closer.

Valdez added 19 points, nine rebounds, and one steal as NLEX tied TNT for eighth place in the team standings at 4-6.

Either one of them will clinch the last quarterfinal seat outright if they have opposing results in their remaining games.

The Road Warriors will travel to Legazpi to take on Barangay Ginebra on Saturday night, while the Tropang Giga will battle the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the last elimination round game on Sunday night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

If both NLEX and TNT get the same result in their games, they will dispute the eighth seed in a play-in clash on Wednesday night.

Converge's loss spoiled a 50-point blast from Jamil Wilson, which was coupled with 14 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks as the team fell to 1-9.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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