MANILA, Philippines – NLEX averted a colossal collapse against Magnolia, 90-77, to force a knockout quarterfinals in the PBA Philippine Cup at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan on Friday, July 29.
Kevin Alas unloaded a career-high 30 points on top of 9 rebounds and 4 assists as the Road Warriors survived after seeing what was once a 26-point lead cut to single digits to tie the best-of-three series.
Back from health and safety protocols, Alas set the tone in the win with 22 first-half points to help his side build a huge 55-32 lead before Magnolia stormed back in the last two quarters.
Riding on an eight-game winning streak, the Hotshots trimmed their deficit to just 9 points early in the fourth period, 66-75, behind Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang.
But NLEX regained its bearings and erected a 13-2 run highlighted by 4 straight Alas points to restore a 20-point advantage.
Calvin Oftana backstopped Alas with 10 points and 9 rebounds, while Tony Semerad chimed in 9 points, with 7 coming in the pivotal fourth quarter.
Don Trollano also made his presence felt in the win with 8 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, including the bucket that gave the Road Warriors their biggest lead at 61-35 early in the third period.
Abueva finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists for Magnolia, which suffered its first loss in more than one month.
NLEX 90 – Alas 30, Oftana 10, Semerad 9, Varilla 8, Trollano 8, Quinahan 8, Chua 6, Nieto 6, Miranda 3, Rosales 2, Paniamogan 0, Ighalo 0.
Magnolia 77 – Abueva 20, Lee 12, Dionisio 11, Sangalang 10, Jalalon 7, Reavis 4, Barroca 4, Dela Rosa 4, Wong 3, Corpuz 2, Brill 0, Ahanmisi 0, Zaldivar 0, Escoto 0.
Quarters: 25-18, 55-32, 73-59, 90-77.