Top team NLEX rises from 26 down, stuns Magnolia
ANTIPOLO — Jericho Cruz scored the game-winning tip to complete an 86-85 comeback victory by NLEX over Magnolia in the PBA Governors’ Cup Sunday night at Ynares Center here.
Cruz converted the putback off a missed free throw by Kiefer Ravena with only a second left as the Road Warriors remained at the helm with an 8-1 record.
The 29-year-old Cruz finished with 13 points, including a 3-pointer that gave NLEX its first lead, 79-76, with 3:02 left after trailing by as many as 26. The triple capped a blistering 22-5 run to start by the Road Warriors to open the payoff period.
“We need tests like this to toughen our character. We had a bad first half but the guys made up for it,” coach Yeng Guiao told reporters after that contest where trailed by as many as 26 points.
“I was ready to give up. I told the staff at the half that [perhaps] a loss would do us good. But the boys never gave up,” he added as NLEX secured a playoff bonus.
Import Manny Harris collected 22 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists while JR Quiñahan added 14 points for the Road Warriors, who stretched their winning streak to five games.
The Hotshots got 24 points from Paul Lee, who tried to keep his squad ahead down the stretch.
Ian Sangalang tossed in 19 points, while Romeo Travis had 13 and Mark Barroca chipped in 10 for Magnolia, which slid to No. 6 with a 5-5 record.
“It was really a fantastic game. I’ve been coaching for so long but games like this one are rare,” added Guiao.