PBA Philippine Cup

Cellar dwellers on top: Terrafirma stuns NLEX, shares PH Cup lead with Blackwater

Martin Mendoza

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Cellar dwellers on top: Terrafirma stuns NLEX, shares PH Cup lead with Blackwater

LEADER. Terrafirma guard Juami Tiongson in action against NLEX.


For the first time since 2016, Terrafirma opens the conference with a rare 2-0 start – tied with fellow minnow Blackwater at the top of the standings

MANILA, Philippines –A longtime league cellar dweller, the Terrafirma Dyip are starting to turn heads in the PBA Philippine Cup.  

For the first time since the 2016 Governors’ Cup, Terrafirma is off to a 2-0 start in the conference after gutting out a 99-95 win over the NLEX Road Warriors at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, March 3. 

After erupting for 30 points in their opening assignment last Friday, March 2, high-scoring guard Juami Tiongson was on a mission for the Dyip anew as he dropped a team-best 21 points in the come-from-behind triumph.

Javi Gomez de Liaño backstopped Tiongson with 18 points, while top rookie Stephen Holt, who scored a PBA career-high of 27 points two days ago, filled up the stat sheet with 17 markers, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. 

“We have two wins now, but I told my players we have to win every game,” said Terrafirma head coach Johnedel Cardel as the Dyip joined the Blackwater Bossing as the surprise leaders early in the conference. 

“We’re not thinking of our two wins because we might relax.”

“Every game, our mindset should be 1-0, 1-0, until we reach our goal, which is to enter the quarterfinals,” added Cardel as Terrafirma, formerly known as Mahindra, aims to duplicate its 2016 Governors’ Cup run, which was the only time the franchise advanced to the next round. 

With NLEX leading by double figures at halftime, 57-47, Terrafirma came out with guns blazing from the break and opened the third quarter on a 14-4 run to overtake the Road Warriors, 61-60. 

It was a nip-and-tuck battle between both teams throughout the second half, and with Terrafirma up by just 2, 95-93, with over a minute left to play, Sean Anthony had a chance to tie the game for NLEX, but his wide-open layup clanked off the rim.

Isaac Go then drilled two free throws for the Dyip to extend their lead to two possessions, 97-93, before Dave Marcelo quickly responded with a layup on the other end. 

A turnover by NLEX star Robert Bolick with 25 ticks left led to two clutch free throws by JP Calvo to re-establish Terrafirma’s 4-point cushion, 99-95.

NLEX had two opportunities to make it a single possession game in the next play, but Anthony Semerad’s three-point attempt and another easy layup by Anthony failed to hit the target once again.

Terrafirma spoiled the huge performance of Bolick, who came up with a game-high 29 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists. 

Rookie Jhan Nermal was the other Road Warrior in double-figures in the loss with 15 points. 

NLEX slipped to a 1-1 card – tied with the TNT Tropang Giga and the Meralco Bolts. 

The Scores

Terrafirma 99 – Tiongson 21, Gomez de Liaño 18, Holt 17, Calvo 16, Alolino 9, Sangalang 8, Go 7, Ramos 3, Cahilig 0, Camson 0, Mina 0.

NLEX 95 – Bolick 29, Nermal 15, Valdez 9, Miranda 7, Ular 7, Anthony 6, Semerad 6, Nieto 6, Marcelo 4, Pascual 4, Herndon 2. 

Quarters: 21-26, 47-57, 70-73, 99-95.

– Rappler.com 

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