By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE NLEX Road Warriors chalked up back-to-back victories in the PBA Philippine Cup after defeating the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 94-74, in the opening game of a quadruple-header offering on Wednesday at the Angeles University gym in Pampanga.
NLEX rode on a collective effort in putting up a steady fight throughout the contest to get the better of Rain or Shine and give added jolt to its Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) campaign.
The win improved the Road Warriors’ record to 3-5 while Elasto Painters dropped to 4-2 with the loss.
NLEX trailed early in the contest until Kevin Alas came off the bench and gave the Road Warriors a push on offense en route to taking the opening quarter, 24-18.
It was a control that the team would maintain in the second canto despite a spirited charge by Rain or Shine to swing the tide in its favor.
The Road Warriors held a 42-39 advantage at the halftime break.
The teams came out swinging to start the third quarter, fighting to a 48-47 count, with NLEX narrowly on top, at the 7:21 mark.
But Mr. Alas and Company went to outscore the Elasto Painters, 16-6, in the next six minutes to extend their lead to 11 points, 64-53. Rain or Shine then got to narrow its deficit after, 64-57, heading into the final frame.
In the fourth, the Road Warriors built on the momentum they got in the previous quarter and kept frustrating the Elasto Painters.
They led by 10 points, 79-69, midway into the quarter before they exploded and put the game away for good.
NLEX finished with a flurry, outgunning its opponent 15-5, to book the win. Mr. Alas top-scored for NLEX with 18 points followed by Jericho Cruz with 17.
JR Quinahan finished with 13 points while Raul Soyud had a near double-double of nine points and nine rebounds for the Road Warriors, who still have three games left in their elimination round assignment.
For Rain or Shine, it was Rey Nambatac who showed the way with 15 points followed by Jewel Ponferada with 10.
“One thing going for us of late is we are getting in better shape. When we started it was really tough because we were not in good shape. Defense was lousy but in our last few games we were playing better defense. And I think that is a major development for us. Hopefully it’s not too late,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao in the postgame interview as he talked about their winning streak of late.
In their previous game, the Road Warriors dealt the league-leading TNT Tropang Giga their first defeat.
Next for NLEX are the defending champions San Miguel Beermen on Nov. 6.