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NLEX wards off Blackwater on Easter

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Asi Taulava and import Al Thornton dominated inside, combining for 44 points as the NLEX Road Warriors dealt Blackwater Elite their third straight loss, 88-75, on Easter Sunday, March 27, in the 2016 PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Taulava, who just turned 43 this month, paced the Road Warriors with a double-double of 22 points, 15 rebounds to go with 4 assists and two blocks. Thornton backed him up with 22 points and 8 rebounds as NLEX leveled its record at 4-4.

"Our defense really stepped up today," said head coach Boyet Fernandez. "Our goal is to limit Blackwater to 90 and below, and we’re happy we limited them to below 80."

Sean Anthony came off the bench for 15 points and 8 rebounds while Kevin Alas added 10 markers as NLEX turned back Blackwater's fourth quarter rally from 16 points down.

The Elite trimmed the deficit to as little as two points early in that final frame but a basket by Taulava and a 3-pointer by Thornton created separation once again for the Road Warriors, 75-68.

Art Dela Cruz topscored for Blackwater with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while MJ Rhett had 14 markers, 18 boards and 7 turnovers.

Reil Cervantes chipped in 7 points as the Elite dropped to 3-6 in the standings.

Scores:

NLEX (88): Taulava 22, Thornton 22, Anthony 15, Alas 10, J Villanueva 7, E Villanueva 4, Khobuntin 3, Lanete 3, Enciso 2. Borboran 0.

Blackwater (75): Dela Cruz 16, Rhett 14, Cervantes 11, Gamalinda 8, Cortez 7, Pascual 7, Lastimosa 6, Erram 4, Sena 2, Bulawan 0, Golla 0, Reyes 0, Tiongson 0.

Quarter scores: 18-12, 42-32, 66-60, 88-75.

– Rappler.com