By REYNALD MAGALLON
Aljun Melecio and Jeron Teng picked up the scoring cudgels in the second half following the ejection of import Quincy Miller as Converge kept NLEX at bay with a 108-84 victory in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Without Miller who was tossed out of the game late in the second quarter, Teng and Melecio took turns in the second half in carrying the fight for the FiberXers, foiling the repeated rallies from the Road Warriors to pick up their fifth straight win.
Melecio reset his career-high for the second time in the last three games, finishing with 24 points – 14 of which he poured in the final frame when Converge weathered a 10-0 rally from NLEX which cut the FiberXers lead down to just 10 points.
The La Salle standout also had six assists and five rebounds to cap the game-long brilliance while Teng who provided timely hits in the third quarter to finish with 14 points all while holding his own against NLEX import Earl Clark.
The FiberXers suddenly became small with Miller hitting the showers early following a technical foul in the first quarter and flagrant foul penalty one on the landing spot rule after his late challenge Brandon Ganuelas Rosser’s jumper.
Converge played solid on the defensive end using a box-and-1 set up that denied Clark his touches and neutralized the size advantage of the Road Warriors inside the paint.
“We just had to rely with the system especially our main man was out so I just told them to keep on executing and make sure that we became consistent on the defense,” said Converge head coach Aldin Ayo as his team improved to a 6-2 record and a share of the second spot in the standings.
Converge went off to a hot start drilling eight of its 18 triples in the first quarter alone to establish a 34-17 lead after the first 12-minutes of the match.
The romp though didn’t come without some scare as NLEX tried to rally back numerous times in the second half – the last, a 10-0 run to open the fourth quarter, 80-70, after trailing by as many as 26 points.
Melecio, however, came to the rescue for Converge, scoring on a layup before burying a triple off the board before Abu Tratter scored on a floater to restore order and a 20-point lead.
Rosser paced NLEX with career-high 24 points while Clark and Philip Paniamogan finished with 15 points apiece in a losing cause.
CONVERGE 108 – Melecio 24, Miller 15, Teng 14, Arana 12, Tratter 9, Stockton 8, Ambohot 7, Ahanmisi 6, Ilagan 5, Murrell 3, DiGregorio 3, Racal 2.
NLEX 84 – Ganuelas-Rosser 24, Clark 15, Paniamogan 15, Alas 14, Rosales 8, Nieto 8, Chua 0, Miranda 0, Fonacier 0.
Quarters: 34-17, 58-41, 80-60, 108-84.