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PBA: Imports carry NLEX past Alaska

Kwame AlexanderNLEX’s lowly record is indeed deceiving.

Drawing huge games from their imports – American Kwame Alexander and Syrian Mike Madanly – the Road Warriors erased a 13-point third quarter deficit and spoiled the Alaska Aces’ bid to regain a share of the lead with a 113-102 victory last night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Alexander proved himself worthy of remaining with the team by posting 28 points and 11 rebounds even as the Madanly scored the same amount of points while being able to finish the game after being hounded by injuries to help NLEX snap a two-game skid.

The Road Warriors improved to a share of 8th to 10th spots with rivals Star and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at 2-4, making losing coach Alex Compton sound like a prophet.

Compton had earlier described NLEX’s slow start as deceiving, saying that the Road Warriors are capable of competing.

Alaska, however, appeared poised to extend NLEX’s woes after taking a 75-62 lead midway in the third period.

But Alexander, who sources said could be replaced by former Barako Bull import Josh Dollard, powered the Road Warriors’ comeback to reduce the Aces’ lead to 85-83 entering the final frame.

He then teamed up with Mark Cardona, who scored nine of his 20 points in the fourth, with a decisive 16-4 run to give NLEX a 107-96 advantage with barely a minute to play.

Alexander’s performance earned him high marks from NLEX Coach Boyet Fernandez, who said that the 6-foot-5, dreadlocks-wearing import “gave himself a chance” to stay with the team.

“We talked to him about the situation, what happened with Talk ’N Text game (where he missed shots down the stretch). Told him that he has to show lots of energy, the way he did in Greece. That’s the reason why we brought him in, his energy,” said Fernandez.

“Management is thinking about it, but the way he played, mahirap naman na nanalo… tapos papalitan. He gave himself a chance to stay. He knows how important he is for the team,” Fernandez added.

A source said that Dollard, who played for Barako Bull in last season’s Commissioner’s Cup averaging 32.6 points and 15.2 rebounds, is already in town but has not been able to get his release papers from the Energy Cola.

Reinforcement Romeo Travis had 31 points and 12 rebounds but Alaska dropped to a tie for third to fourth places with Globalport at 4-2.

First Game
NLEX 113 – Alexander 28, Madanly 28, Taulava 20, Cardona 15, Canaleta 6, Villanueva E. 5, Wilson 4, Villanueva J. 4, Arboleda W. 3, Borboran 0, Ramos 0.

ALASKA 102 – Travis 31, Baguio 23, Banchero 14, Casio 12, Jazul 8, Abueva 6, Manuel 2, Thoss 2, Menk 2, Dela Cruz 2, Dela Rosa 0, Exciminiano 0, Hontiveros 0.

Quarters: 31-29; 60-54; 83-85; 113-102.