NLEX foils Rain or Shine's bid for PH Cup top seed
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Sean Anthony recorded a career-high 37 points and Mac-Mac Cardona stepped up defensively in the clutch as the NLEX Road Warriors upset the top seed-seeking Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 111-106, in the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday, December 19 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Road Warriors snapped a 4-game losing streak to finish the eliminations at 5-6 and become the 7th seed entering the quarterfinals. They will face the loser between Talk 'N Text and Barangay Ginebra's final elimination round game on Sunday, December 20 with a twice-to-win disadvantage.
They also foiled the Painters' bid for a top seed and an outright semifinals berth as Rain or Shine slid down to 3rd seed and will have to go through the quarterfinals.
"We're happy that we won this game. We wanted really to have a positive outlook going into the quarterfinals," said head coach Boyet Fernandez.
"Even though we had 4 straight losses I just told the boys that eventually we will win. We just have to think positive. It's an upset for Rain or Shine."
Anthony, who also had 6 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal, scored the Road Warriors' last 8 points starting from the go-ahead lay-up, 105-104, for NLEX's first lead since the opening period with 2:08 remaining.
The 29-year old went 4-of-6 from downtown and had 13 points in the payoff period as NLEX rallied from an 82-69 deficit late in the third frame.
The veteran Cardona, who contributed 11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, executed two crucial defensive stops down the stretch. The first came with 1:44 left as he stole the ball that ultimately led to Anthony splitting his charities.
Cardona then made the game-sealing play, swiping the rock right off of Jeff Chan's hands at the top of the key to ignite a fastbreak which Anthony finished with an and-one play for the final tally with 10.3 ticks remaining.
Asi Taulava and finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds while Jonas Villanueva added 14 markers.
The fallen Rain or Shine had Beau belga leading the way with 18 points and 7 rebounds, but the burly bigman fouled out with 2:35 left in the game.
Chan and Jewel Ponferada had 15 and 13 points, respectively. Ponferada, who scored Rain or Shine's only two points from the line in that final NLEX rally, added 7 rebounds.
Chris Tiu had 11 points while Raymond Almazan chipped in a double-double of 10 markers and 15 boards in a losing cause as the Painters finished the eliminations with an 8-3 slate.
Alaska, who defeated Barako Bull in Saturday's first game, is now the first seed while defending champion San Miguel Beer is the second seed. Both will advance directly to the semifinals.
NLEX (111): Anthony 37, Taulava 15, J. Villanueva 14, Cardona 11, Alas 9, Lanete 7, Enciso 6, Reyes 6, Villanueva E. 6, Borboran 0, Khobuntin 0.
Rain or Shine (106): Belga 18, Chan 15, Ponferada 13, Tiu 11, Almazan 10, Cruz 9, Nimes 9, Quinahan 6, Ahanmisi 5, Norwood 5, Teng 3, Matias 2, Trollano 0.
Quarter scores: 33-32, 56-61, 83-88, 111-106.
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