By JONAS TERRADO
(DHVSU Gym, Bacolor)
12:30 p.m. — Magnolia vs Blackwater
3 p.m. — Ginebra vs Terrafirma
6 p.m. — TNT vs Meralco
NLEX’s other reliables stepped up in the absence of Kiefer Ravena and defeated Alaska, 84-74, in a back-and-forth affair Thursday, Sept. 2 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Kevin Alas, JR Quinahan, Jericho Cruz produced solid numbers while role player Kenneth Ighalo provided the lift off the bench as the Road Warriors pulled away from the Aces in the fourth quarter to pick up their third win in five outings.
The Road Warriors tied the San Miguel Beermen for fifth place in the first game without Ravena, who is in Japan to process necessary requirements for his upcoming B.League stint with the Shiga Lakestars.
Coach Yeng Guiao said missing Ravena was just one of many challenges NLEX faced leading up to the match.
NLEX was also without Tony Semerad after his wife Sam Pinto gave birth to a baby girl and the injured Raul Soyud.
Guiao’s team also had to deal with the anxiety of testing negative for COVID-19 while also adjusting to the new surroundings after playing the first five games of the conference in late-July at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
“Mahirap talaga tong setup,” Guiao said. “But I think everything is well-compensated by the mere fact that we’re able to play. Makalaro ka lang, di baleng daanan mo na lahat yun.”
Alas had 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists, Quinahan topscored with 18 points, Cruz put up 15 points, four rebounds and four steals while Ighalo made 10 of his 15 points in the fourth for an impressive debut this conference.
Maverick Ahanmisi scored 17 points while Mike DiGregorio had 16 but the Aces fell to 2-4 after losing steam in the final eight minutes of the contest.
The two teams battled to three ties and nine lead changes, with NLEX needing to overcome a 50-40 deficit in the third behind Quinahan’s eight points following that scoreline.
Ighalo’s three put NLEX in front for good at 67-66 before Alas made five and Cruz four, all courtesy of back-to-back baskets that stretched the lead to 80-71, 3:21 remaining in the match.
NLEX 84 — Quinahan 18, Alas 17, Cruz 15, Ighalo 15, Oftana 8, Paniamogan 6, Miranda 5, Porter 0, Trollano 0, McAloney 0, Ayonayon 0.
ALASKA 74 — Ahanmisi 17, DiGregorio 16, Brondial 8, Herndon 7, Banal 7, Teng 5, Tratter 4, Stockton 4, Casio 4, Ebona 2, Ilagan 0.
Quarters: 20-19, 38-37, 59-55, 84-74.