by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. — Alaska vs Rain or Shine
6:45 p.m. — TNT KaTropa vs Magnolia
ANTIPOLO CITY — Poy Erram made a game-saving block on Ranidel de Ocampo in the dying seconds and NLEX overcame Meralco, 87-83, in a game that was tight right from the beginning to pick up its second straight win in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center.
Erram prevented De Ocampo from tying the score at 85-all by swatting the Bolts veteran’s open layup in the paint to give the Road Warriors a hard-fought victory in the Petron Saturday Special.
Showing why he was a prized acquisition during an offseason trade with Blackwater, Erram immediately earned a nickname from NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
“We call him the sweeper,” Guiao said of Erram, who is averaging 16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and a league-best 4.0 blocks.
NLEX won a contest that saw 20 lead changes, 15 ties and a 17-minute delay due to a power interruption with the Road Warriors ahead 81-78 with 2:57 remaining in the fourth.
Meralco appeared to be slowly benefiting from the blackout as De Ocampo tied the game at 83-all on a three with 1:30 left in the fourth.
The Road Warriors got the lead back through splits by JR Quinahan and Bong Galanza from the foul line for 85-83 that kept the door open for the Bolts to go for an equalizer.
But Erram made sure NLEX would get of this city with another win that came after a 0-3 start.
Meanwhile, Governors’ Cup champion Magnolia launches its bid for a second straight crown against TNT KaTropa tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6:45 p.m. match comes after Alaska will be temporarily handled by assistant coach Jeff Cariaso in the 4:30 p.m. opener opposite Rain or Shine.
Rain or Shine is coming off a 108-98 upset of San Miguel.
NLEX 87 – Quinahan 16, Galanza 14, Erram 12, Alas 12, Rios 9, Magat 8, Porter 6, Fonacier 4, Ighalo 2, Paniamogan 2, Tallo 2, Soyud 0.
Meralco 83 – Dillinger 16, Newsome 15, Hugnatan 14, De Ocampo 8, Caram 8, Amer 7, Hodge 6, Canaleta 3, Faundo 2, Salva 2, Jackson 2, Pinto 0, Tolomia 0.
Quarters: 21-22, 34-37, 61-64, 87-83.