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PBA: Road Warriors claim 2nd win

Kia's Glenn Khobuntin (center) loses the ball from NLEX's Alex Mallari (left) and JR Quinahan  (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Kia’s Glenn Khobuntin (center) loses the ball from NLEX’s Alex Mallari (left) and JR Quinahan (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

by Jonas Terrado

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Star vs Blackwater
6:45 p.m. – Ginebra vs Meralco

Slaughter returns as Ginebra faces Meralco.

The NLEX Road Warriors are beginning to show signs of a team that has developed a winning habit after holding off the Kia Picanto, 100-93, yesterday to seize the early lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

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Import Aaron Fuller is turning out to be a quality find as he finished with 24 points and 19 rebounds even as Kevin Alas and JR Quinahan scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, to give the Road Warriors their first 2-0 start since coach Yeng Guiao took over at the start of the season.

NLEX won its fourth straight dating back to the latter part of the Commissioner’s Cup, which Guiao credited to a renewed attitude following a 2-18 start in his tenure.

“We feel there’s a transition from the previous mentality,” said Guiao, who was ejected with 4:19 left in the game for a second technical foul at the height of Kia’s comeback from a 27-point deficit.

Reinforcement Markeith Cummings had 30 points and 15 rebounds but the Picanto absorbed their second straight defeat.

Phoenix is also seeking to join NLEX at the top opposite Alaska in their game being played at presstime.

Meanwhile, Greg Slaughter makes his much-awaited return today as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel launches its title defense gainst the Meralco Bolts, the team it beat in last year’s finals.

Out for almost a year due to a knee injury, the 7-foot center gets a chance to show what Ginebra fans have missed as they take on the Bolts, winners in their opening assignment two days ago, in the main game at 6:45 p.m.

Ginebra coach Tim Cone plans to slowly integrate Slaughter into the Kings rotation and hopefully get better once the more important games are on tap.

“There’s a lot of adjustment we had to make, and hopefully we’ll be able to do it over time,” said Cone. “We’re not gonna rush into this, we gonna take our time and integrate him the right way. But its not as NLEX 100 – Fuller 24, Alas 13, Lastimosa 13, Quiñahan 11, Taulava 8, Al-Hussaini 6, Mallari 6, Soyud 6, Baracael 5, Villanueva 5, Fonacier 3, Ighalo 0, Tiongson 0, Monfort 0, Rios 0.

KIA 93 – Cummings 30, Khobuntin 15, Jaime 13, Celda 8, Paniamogan 6, Elorde 6, Yee 4, Corpuz 4, Camson 3, Salva 2, Nimes 2, Caperal 0, Galanza 0, Teng 0, Ballesteros 0.

Quarterscores: 36-18, 64-40, 83-70, 100-93.