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PBA: NLEX downs Bolts

NLEX’s Kwame Alexander goes up as Meralco’ Sean Anthony and John Ferriols look on during PBA Governor’s Cup action last night at the Cuneta Astrodome. (PBA Images)

Games Tomorrow (Ynares Center, Antipolo)
4:15 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Barako Bull
7 p.m. – Alaska vs Rain or Shine

Manila, Philippines – The uninspired Meralco Bolts put to waste the efforts of import Andre Emmet and debuting Japanese ninja Seiya Ando with lackluster local contribution yesterday, going down in defeat, 91-84, in the PBA Governors’ Cup to the NLEX Road Warriors, a team ripe for the kill but mercifully let off the hook.

NLEX snapped a two-game losing start while Meralco negated a previous victory over San Miguel Beer in slipping to 1-2.

Their backs already against the wall, the Road Warriors averted a more serious situation of falling into a 0-3 hole by getting slam-dunking Kwame Alexander to assault the rim as often as he wanted to and by convincing Asi Taulava that age is just a state of mind.

Alexander had 29 points, including at least four bone-jarring dunks, while Taulava knocked down a couple of bodies in turning back time for 20 points. The NLEX import grabbed 17 rebounds and the 42-year-old Fil-Tongan ‘Rock’ had his share with 10.

KG Canaleta was invaluable in getting NLEX back on road with 13 points, spiced by three triples, while Mac Cardona had 9 coming off the bench.

The same couldn’t be said of the Meralco locals whose best contribution to Emmet’s 44 points and Ando’s 18 as a non-starter was the 6 points of Cliff Hodge. Collectively, the Bolts were 30 of 86 from the floor, with Emmet hoisting 40 and Ando, who replaced the ineligible Iranian reinforcement Benny Koochoie, going 6 of 13 with three 3-point shots.

Starters Mike Cortez, Reynel Hugnatan and Gary David combined for 4 points, with David 0 of 8 from the field, 5 of them misfires from 3-point range.

“We lost five or five straight but still I do appreciate my guys sticking to our system,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez, who was without prolific Syrian import Michael Madanly, who strained his nape in a head-on collision with Dylan Ababou during the game against Barako Bull.

“He has no feel on his back. Bugbog pa rin from his shoulder to his back,” Fernandez said of Madanly.

With Meralco’s undersized frontline a vulnerable spot, the Road Warriors pounded the ball to Taulava who muscled his way past Reynel Hugnatan and James Sena, brushed aside by Taulava’s flexed bicep in one instance in the second half.

Still, NLEX struggled to put the game away early as an Emmet 3-pointer cut an eight-point deficit to 76-78 with five minutes remaining. But Alexander hit two free throws and Canaleta buried a 3 to make it 83-76, the Bolts coming no closer than 4 from there.

Motivation, according to Fernandez, came from two sides.

“Pressured yung mga bata kasi wala pa kaming panalo e,” he said. “Then there’s the bragging rights being competitive sister teams.”

First Game
NLEX 91 – Alexander 29, Taulava 20, Canaleta 13, Cardona 9, Ramos 6, Arboleda H. 5, Villanueva J. 4, Villanueva E. 3, Borboran 2, Raymundo 0, Lingganay 0.

MERALCO 84 – Emmett 44, Ando 18, Hodge 6, Sena 4, Ferriols 4, Wilson 2, Anthony 2, David 2, Ildefonso 0, Cortez 0, Guevarra 0.

Quarters: 17-16, 40-36, 63-59, 91-84

Second Game
GINEBRA 105 – Johnson 47, Caguioa 16, Urbiztondo 11, Tenorio 10, Mercado 8, Tungalag 8, Brondial 3, Marcelo 2, Pena 0, Monfort 0, Helterbrand 0, Baracael 0.

KIA 98 – Revilla 20, N’Diaye 19, Dehesa 19, Chang 10, Bagatsing 10, Nuyles 5, Ighalo 4, Alvarez 4, Thiele 3, Deutchman 2, Yee 2, Pascual 0.

Quarters: 23-27, 49-42, 73-65, 105-98