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PBA: NLEX, ROS prevail

RainOrShine's Paul Lee dribble away from the defense of KIA Sorento's Karl Dehesa and Kyle Pascual during PBA action at Smart Araneta Coliseum. Photo by Tony Pionilla

Games Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:15 p.m. – Alaska vs Meralco
7 p.m. – Globalport vs Purefoods

Newcomer North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) dealt Barangay Ginebra San Miguel its first loss this season as the Road Warriors used a huge fourth quarter run for a 97-81 win in the PBA Philippine Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Veteran forward Nino “KG” Canaleta, a former Ginebra player, sparked NLEX’s decisive run in the fourth frame as the Warriors unleashed a 28-11 blast that turned a 66-62 lead entering the final frame to a comfortable 90-76 lead with two minutes left in the game.

Mark Cardona led NLEX’s balanced attack with 25 points, while Jonas Villanueva added 14 markers. Canaleta, who buried back-to-back three-pointers in the run, had 13 markers off the bench.

Aldrech Ramos and rookie Jeckster Apinan added 10 points each for the Warriors, who improved to 2-1 while denying Ginebra to gain solo lead. The two are now tied for fourth to sixth places in the standings.

The victory also allowed the Road Warriors to get back on track after losing big opposite Talk ’N Text (103-81) last Friday.

“This win is not really on me, it’s really on the boys,” said NLEX Coach Boyet Fernandez. “We had a bad game against TNT and I just challenged the players to step up defensively.”

“I really feel they can play defense, and they just proved it tonight,” added Fernandez, who recently led San Beda College to its fifth straight NCAA title.

NLEX Juneric Baloria committs a foul against Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar to stop him from scoring during PBA actuion at Smart Araneta Coliseum. Photo by Tony Pionilla

Chris Ellis led Ginebra with 19 points, while Greg Slaughter finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds.

In the first game, Paul Lee hardly showed signs of a knee injury that sidelined him the last time as he fired a game-high 22 points to power Rain or Shine to a rousing 117-88 win over expansion squad Kia.

Lee, sidelined against Blackwater with a hyper-extended right knee last Friday, went 8-of-11 from the field including 4-of-6 from three-point territory.

Apart from torching the nets, Lee also added four rebounds in just 15 minutes of action.

The 6-foot-1 Lee, a member of the Gilas Pilipinas, hurt his knee when he landed awkwardly in the second period against San Miguel Beer last week.

But based on his performance against Kia, Lee appeared to have eased back into shape.

It was actually a total team effort for Rain or Shine, which got six other players score in double digit with Beau Belga collecting 16 points. TY Tang had 15 markers, while rookie Jericho Cruz and Jeric Teng finished with 12 apiece.

Jervy Cruz had a double-double, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Jonathan Uyloan chipped in 10 points with four assists for ROS, which won its second straight game for a 2-1 win-loss card.

Kia, on the other hand, suffered its second consecutive setback – and second in a row without player/coach Manny Pacquiao, who is preparing for his Nov. 23 fight against American challenger Chris Algieri in Macau.

Still, Elasto Painters head coach Yeng Guiao didn’t take Kia lightly despite the Sorento’s inferior lineup.