NLEX coughed up a bunch of turnovers in the endgame but managed to hold off debuting TNT, 102-100, to stay unbeaten in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, December 15.
Import KJ McDaniels posted a game-high 33 points and hit key buckets in the fourth quarter that gave the Road Warriors enough cushion to outlast the Tropang Giga en route to seizing solo top spot in the standings with a 3-0 record.
Perhaps still adjusting to playing before a live audience for the first time in nearly two years, NLEX committed three turnovers in the final minute – one each from McDaniels, Calvin Oftana, and Don Trollano – as TNT narrowed the gap to 100-101 off a Kelly Williams triple.
But a turnover also kept the Tropang Giga from taking the lead after import Mackenzie Moore stepped out of bounds with 14 ticks left and fouled Trollano, who gave the Road Warriors a two-point lead with a split at the charity stripe.
TNT had ample time to either tie or steal the win, but Roger Pogoy ran out of time before he released his potential game-winning three-pointer, which nonetheless missed the mark.
McDaniels, who scored 9 points in the fourth quarter against his former team, also put up 8 rebounds and 2 steals in the win.
Trollano and JR Quiñahan led the local attack for NLEX with 15 points apiece, Kevin Alas had 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists, while Oftana netted 10 points, including two big buckets in the final 3:30 minutes.
Kelly Williams topscored for the Tropang Giga with 16 points and Moore chalked up a near triple-double of 15 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists in his first game in the PBA.
Picked up from free agency by TNT, Gab Banal tallied 14 points on a 3-of-5 clip from three-point land, although he went scoreless in the second half.
NLEX 102 – McDaniels 33, Trollano 15, Quiñahan 15, Alas 11, Oftana 10, Semerad 8, Cruz 8, Ighalo 2, Rosales 0, Paniamogan 0.
TNT 100 – K. Williams 16, Moore 15, Banal 14, M. Williams 12, Pogoy 11, Erram 11, Khobuntin 9, Castro 9, Reyes 3, Heruela 0, Marcelo 0.
Quarters: 29-21, 51-46, 76-70, 102-100.