Manny Harris erupted for 45 points in his debut as NLEX survived Columbian’s fourth quarter comeback for a 117-111 win and gain solo second in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Harris proved to be good as advertised — and a risk worth taking as far as coach Yeng Guiao is concerned — as he sparked the Road Warriors hot start before delivering key baskets late to escape with their fifth win in six games.
NLEX moved past idle San Miguel Beer while staying within striking distance of unbeaten leader TNT KaTropa, and Guiao feels Harris is capable of maintaining his form despite deciding to send home the effective Olu Ashaolu.
“Olu was really doing well for us. He brought us to where we are now so this is a big risk,” Guiao said. “But it seems to me, at least after one game, that the gamble that we took was worth it.”
The former NBA player with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks added five rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks in 35 minutes.
His impressive debut almost went for naught as the Road Warriors blew a 17-point lead on Harris’ dunk that made it 83-66 with over three minutes left in the third period.
Import Khapri Alston tied the contest twice, the last on two free throws for 106-all with 1:40 to go.
But Dyip forward Jackson Corpuz fouled JR Quinahan from the three-point arc, prompting the NLEX big man to hit all three foul shots to regain the lead at 109-106 entering the final minute.
Columbian couldn’t respond as Poy Erram and Harris made a pair of blocks and Kiefer Ravena regained possession from rookie CJ Perez during a looseball situation with 43 seconds left.
Harris then made a left-handed layup off Alston, with a bonus free throw to boot to double NLEX’s lead at 112-106, 37 ticks to go.
Quinahan scored 15 points and Ravena produced 11 points, five rebounds, eight assists and two steals for NLEX.
Perez posted 21 points, Corpuz had 20 points and eight rebounds and Alston added 19 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks but the Dyip fell to an even 3-3 slate.
NLEX 117 — Harris 45, Quinahan 15, Ravena 11, Galanza 9, Soyud 7, Ighalo 6, Taulava 6, Cruz 6, Miranda 5, Paniamogan 5, Erram 2, Baguio 0, Lao 0.
COLUMBIAN 111 — Perez 21, Corpuz 20, Alston 19, Tiongson 18, Celda 12, Calvo 7, Agovida 6, Cahilig 3, McCarthy 3, Faundo 2, Cabrera 0, Flores 0.
Quarters: 28-20; 54-44; 87-77; 117-111.
(Ynares Center, Antipolo City)
4:30 p.m. — Meralco vs Blackwater
7 p.m. — TNT KaTropa vs Alaska