NLEX holds off Alaska in OT thriller
NLEX survived with a 99-97 nail-biting overtime win over Alaska to open its campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces had several chances to tie the game anew down the stretch but RJ Jazul’s layup clanked off the basket while JP Mendoza’s tip-in suffered the same fate.
Dondon Hontiveros had the ball after the mad scramble but his two attempts also missed the basket as the buzzer sounded.
It was Carlo Lastimosa who gave the Red Warriors the final score line when he split his free throws 10.2 seconds earlier.
Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao, who was the main man in the bench for Rain or Shine for five years before moving to NLEX, said thrillers like their season opener are vital for the development of his team.
“It’s a good way to start the season, we need games like this to build the character for this team,” said Guiao. “We’re lucky they missed four shots and we’re lucky Calvin Abueva is not playing.”
“Better to be lucky than good.”
Abueva missed Alaska’s opening game due to tonsillitis.
NLEX had a 98-94 lead late in the overtime period but Chris Banchero cut it to 98-97 with a triple.
Sean Anthony led NLEX with 21 points and 14 rebounds while sophomore big man Bradwyn Guinto also had a double-double of 17 points and 10 boards.
Rookie Carl Bryan Cruz had an impressive debut for the Aces with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
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