Canaleta lights up late to lift NLEX over Meralco
MANILA, Philippines – KG Canaleta drained the dagger stepback three-pointer with 43.5 seconds remaining and the NLEX Road Warriors outlasted league leaders Meralco Bolts, 89-76, in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday, February 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“KG is always a shooter from the outside. If he has the confidence and he made his first shot it’s good for us because we can spread out,” NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez commended his player.
“He’s been consistently scoring for us in terms of 3-point shots.”
After tallying a mere 3 points for the first 3 quarters, the sharp-shooting Canaleta caught fire in the payoff period, draining 3 treys for 13 of his total 16 points to keep a skidding Meralco at bay.
Canaleta, who went just one-of-5 from the field for the first 36 minutes, was responsible for squashing every dangerous Meralco run with his timely baskets.
The 33-year old, who also had 4 rebounds, pushed the Road Warriors back up to 77-72 on a jumper with 2:19 left after the Bolts came dangerously close at 75-72.
A Gary David fastbreak with 1:08 remaining gave Meralco a silver of hope, 79-74, before Canaleta stepped back for the dagger that put the game out of reach.
Fernandez’s only problem with the athletic forward for now is defense. But Canaleta was far from a defensive liability in this game as NLEX was +15 with him on the floor.
“He’s now playing defense for us as well,” Fernandez said. “That’s one weakness we’re trying to improve on KG.”
Import Al Thornton hit a game-high 36 points but went silent in the final frame with just 3 points, paving the way for Canaleta and the other locals to step up. Thornton also added 16 rebounds and two assists, but was less than careful with the ball with 6 miscues.
NLEX controlled the majority of the contest but Meralco briefly took a 51-50 lead in the third period, before the now 3-4 Road Warriors countered with a 13-2 blast to erect a 63-53 advantage nearing the end of that quarter.
“First winning streak in a very long time,” Fernandez said as his team won two straight. “But it’s really our defense that stepped up tonight. The players really starting to grasp the defensive system. This win will not be a reality without the players playing well.”
David led Meralco with his 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field. While Josh Davis, who is still nursing a severe muscle contusion on his left hip, contributed 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Bolts despite foul trouble.
Davis’ basket with 3:25 remaining brought Meralco to within 75-72, but he subsequently fouled out in the ensuing play.
Mike Cortez chipped in 10 points for the once undefeated Bolts, who fell to 5-2 after dropping back-to-back games. – Rappler.com