NLEX repulses Meralco, takes 1st win in PBA Comm’s Cup

Ilonggo Jericho Cruz of NLEX Road Warriors handles the ball as three Meralco Bolts players prepare to gang on him. PBA

MANILA – NLEX Road Warriors finally broke into the win column of the 2019 Honda PBA Commissioner’s Cup after a 100-91 victory over Meralco Bolts last night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Tony Mitchell fired double-double 32 points and 20 rebounds, Ilonggo Jericho Cruz added 16 markers, while Pedrito Galanza contributed 13 markers for the Road Warriors (1-6).

Holding to a slight advantage after the first 12 minutes, the Road Warriors surged to a 46-36 edge on triples by John Paul Erram and Kenneth Ighalo. The Bolts came to within 36-39 but late hits from Galanza and Mitchell gave NLEX a 56-49 halftime edge.

The Road Warriors waxed hot from outside in the third period from Paul Varilla, Philip Paniamogan and Cruz for its largest lead at 23 points. The Bolts retaliated with a rally to come to within 70-85 heading into the fourth.

In the final quarter, the Bolts went on a huge run to come to as close as 87-91 but the Road Warriors got timely baskets from Mitchell and free throws by Cruz increased the lead back to 100-91.

Gani Lawal had double-double 15 points and 14 rebounds, Chris Newsome and Nicholas Salva contributed 14 markers apiece, while Baser Amer had 13 for the Bolts (3-5).

In the first game, the eight-man NorthPort Batang Pier clawed its way back from double-digit deficit to pull off a 107-105 overtime win over Rain or Shine Elasto Painters for a share of top spot in the standings.

Down by as much as 24 points in the second half, the Batang Pier mounted a huge fight back behind the outside shooting of Moala Tautuaa, Robert Bolick and Garvo Lanete to force the overtime at 100-all.

The Batang Pier went on with its momentum in the extension period as it surged to 107-102 edge on a layup by Bolick and a triple by Tautuaa. The Painters came to within 105-107 on a triple by Denzel Bowles before he missed a potential game-winning trey.

Tautuaa led the way with career-high 34 points and 11 rebounds, while Robert Bolick added 22 markers for the Batang Pier (6-1). Bowles finished with 41 points, 10 rebounds and six assists but also committed 10 turnovers for the Painters (2-3)./PN


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