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Strange game

NLEX completes classic comeback vs Magnolia; Caram shines as Meralco secures twice-to-beat protection
/ 04:03 AM November 11, 2019
Manny Harris NLEX Magnolia

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ANTIPOLO—Meralco coach Norman Black had something to say about the game of basketball after his squad hammered out a 103-89 victory over NorthPort on Sunday night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Ynares Center here.

“Basketball’s pretty strange,” he said, after the Bolts secured twice-to-beat protection for the quarterfinal round.

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And he hadn’t even seen how the next game would play out.

NLEX overhauled a 26-point lead but nearly threw away its effort with a key defensive breakdown and a missed Kiefer Ravena free throw.

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And then Jericho Cruz found himself in the right place at the right time and put back the miss to rescue the Road Warriors against the Magnolia Hotshots, 86-85.

Trailing most of the way, NLEX tied the game twice in the stretch, the last at 83, when a blown pick-and-roll coverage allowed Paul Lee to give Magnolia a two-point spread.

Road Warriors big man JR Quiñahan missed a triple and Hotshots import Romeo Travis collared the rebound but was forced to a held ball under three seconds remaining. Travis won the tap but it went to Ravena, who was fouled by Marc Barroca.

Ravena missed the back end of his free throws but Cruz cut to the basket and found the ball going his way for the game-winning tip-in with a second remaining.

“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,” said coach Yeng Guiao of NLEX, which also gained a playoff bonus.

Black’s version of strange was less dramatic.

“When you start winning, guys start to become confident, guys [begin] to support one another. Then you see heroes come up,” he added.

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That hero was Anjo Caram, who popped 30 points to lead the Bolts to their fifth straight victory.

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