Ashaolu turns heads in debut as NLEX averts disaster for 2nd win
MANILA, Philippines – Picking up just their second win in the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the NLEX Road Warriors held down the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 100-97, at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, June 28.
Olu Ashaolu turned heads in his debut game, dropping 26 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists on a 10-of-22 shooting for the 2-7 NLEX.
Ken Ighalo and Poy Erram chipped in 13 markers apiece in the rare win for coach Yeng Guiao’s embattled squad.
“I had some doubts about Olu’s condition before this game,” said Guiao in the post-game presser.
“He just arrived 3 days ago. I was a bit doubtful of what shape he was in, but he looked good in practice. We just ran a couple of plays for him and it’s a good thing he was able to sustain his energy both on offense and defense.”
Although Rain or Shine successfully came back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit, the Road Warriors did just enough in the endgame to hold on.
With NLEX clinging on to a two-point lead with 37 seconds left, Philip Paniamogan drew in defenders on his drive and passed to an open Ashaolu for the easy layup and the 98-94 lead.
However, Kris Rosales sank a quick corner three off the timeout to inch within one, 98-97, before NLEX wasted their next possession off a 24-second violation.
With a chance to steal the game, Rain or Shine turned to Denzel Bowles for the final shot, but the big man got swatted by Erram on the drive, leading to a duty foul on Ashaolu who calmly sank his last free throws for the win.
With the win, NLEX broke a four-game losing streak against Rain or Shine dating back to the 2017 Governors' Cup as the Elasto Painters dropped to 3-4 for the conference.
Bowles churned out 35 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists in the losing effort. Rosales added 18 markers while Javee Mocon flirted with a triple-double off 12 points, 8 assists and 7 boards.
NLEX 100 - Ashaolu 26, Cruz 15, Ighalo 13, Erram 13, Tiongson 8, Soyud 7, Varilla 6, Quinahan 5, Paniamogan 5, Lao 2, Paredes 0, Baguio 0.
Rain or Shine 97 - Bowles 35, Rosales 18, Daquioag 13, Mocon 12, Belga 9, Nambatac 7, Norwood 2, Alejandro 1, Ponferada 0, Borboran 0, Torres 0.
Quarters: 23-23, 51-38, 81-64, 100-97.