PBA Commissioner’s Cup

NLEX stays alive, pulls off king-sized upset of Ginebra in OT win

Delfin Dioquino
NLEX stays alive, pulls off king-sized upset of Ginebra in OT win

WIN AGAIN. Earl Clark and NLEX get back on track after five straight losses.

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NLEX wins again after five straight losses and snaps the five-game winning streak of Barangay Ginebra to remain in playoff contention

MANILA, Philippines – NLEX staved off elimination and frustrated a Barangay Ginebra side chasing a playoff bonus in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup with a gritty 120-117 overtime win at the PhilSports Arena on Friday, November 25.

Import Earl Clark finished with 37 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals, while Don Trollano came alive in the second half as the Road Warriors halted a five-game skid to improve to 4-7 and stay alive in playoff contention.

Clark drained the game-tying jump shot that forced an extra period, 113-113, and sank a triple to open overtime before NLEX banked on Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and Paul Varilla to dent the Gin Kings’ bid for a twice-to-beat prize.

Back-to-back Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson buckets gave Ginebra a 117-116 lead with two minutes left, but a Ganuelas-Rosser trey in the ensuing possession saw the Road Warriors regain the upper hand, 119-117.

Varilla then hauled down a crucial defensive rebound and hit a clutch free throw for the tally as the Gin Kings bungled their attempt at extending the match following three-point misses from Jamie Malonzo and Justin Brownlee.

Although he suffered cramps and left the court in overtime, Trollano proved to be the X factor in the all-important win by unloading all of his 26 points in the second half.

Trollano erupted for 20 points in the third period alone as NLEX turned a 54-58 halftime deficit to a 90-83 lead going into the fourth frame.

Still sizzling hot, Trollano canned his seventh and last three-pointer with 1:30 left in the fourth quarter to push the Road Warriors’ lead to 111-106.

Ginebra, though, refused to go away and scored 7 straight points from Brownlee and Thompson for a 113-111 advantage before Clark knotted the score.

Brownlee, however, missed the potential game-winner in regulation.

“The game was extra special for the players, because naturally, they’re playing a big team like Ginebra – a very strong team,” said NLEX head coach Frankie Lim. “The challenge will always be there.”

Kevin Alas tallied 18 points, 9 assists, and 2 steals, while Ganuelas-Rosser put up 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in the win that somehow eased the pain of their overtime loss to erstwhile winless Terrafirma last week.

Brownlee chalked up 39 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks for the Gin Kings, who saw their five-game winning streak snapped as they fell to fourth place with a 7-3 record.

Ginebra has to win its last two games and needs second seed Magnolia (8-2) to lose at least one of its last two matches to get a crack at the win-once incentive in the quarterfinals.

Thompson posted a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds on top of 5 assists and 3 steals in the loss, Aguilar tallied 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while Jamie Malonzo netted 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals.

Following the Gin Kings’ defeat, No. 1 Bay Area (10-2) secured the top seed in the quarterfinals.

The Scores

NLEX 120 – Clark 37, Trollano 26, Alas 18, Nieto 10, Chua 9, Rosales 8, Ganuelas-Rosser 8, Varilla 1, Miranda 0.

Barangay Ginebra 117 – Brownlee 39, Thompson 17, J.Aguilar 13, Malonzo 12, Gray 11, Pringle 11, Standhardinger 9, Tenorio 5, Mariano 0.

Quarters: 25-22, 54-58, 90-83, 113-113 (reg.), 120-117 (OT).

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.