PBA Governors' Cup

Clark comes up clutch as NLEX avoids semis sweep vs Ginebra

Delfin Dioquino
Clark comes up clutch as NLEX avoids semis sweep vs Ginebra

BREAKTHROUGH. Cameron Clark and NLEX finally notch a win in the semifinals.

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Fouling out last game, Cameron Clark closes out for NLEX this time and scores the crucial and-one play that allows the Road Warriors to fight another day

MANILA, Philippines – No sweep.

Import Cameron Clark proved clutch as NLEX avoided elimination, hacking out an 86-85 win over Barangay Ginebra in Game 3 of their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday, March 27.

Fouling out midway through the fourth quarter last game, Clark closed out for the Road Warriors this time and scored the crucial and-one play that allowed the Road Warriors to cut their deficit in the best-of-five duel at 1-2.

It was a tied game at 83-83 before Clark stole a pass from LA Tenorio and sank a layup with seven ticks remaining plus the foul from Justin Brownlee.

Clark, who finished with 21 points, 17 rebounds, 5 steals, and 4 assists, knocked down the bonus free throw to create more separation for NLEX en route to the victory.

Unaware of how big the Gin Kings’ deficit was, Tenorio went for a layup instead of a three-pointer that could have forced overtime, as the Road Warriors lived to fight another day.

(READ: Disoriented Tenorio takes responsibility as endgame blunders cost Ginebra win)

“I told the players, let us just save ourselves from the embarrassment of being swept,” said NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao in a mix of Filipino and English.

“But I also said that if we win, the complexion of the series might change and we can have a chance.”

Kevin Alas finished with 15 points and 4 assists for the Road Warriors, while Justin Chua chimed in 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals as they both delivered key buckets in the fourth quarter.

Given extended minutes, Philip Paniamogan repaid Guiao by scoring all of his 9 points – all from long distance – in the final 2:40 minutes of the third quarter to cut an 11-point deficit to just 3 points going into the final salvo.

It was a nip-and-tuck battle afterwards as NLEX opened the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run powered by 7 points from Chua to seize a 70-62 lead.

Ginebra answered with an 10-2 spurt capped by 5 straight Brownlee points to level the game, which saw four lead changes and three ties in the last 6:30 minutes.

As Brownlee knotted the score at 83-83, the Gin Kings had a chance to once again take the upper hand following a Chua miss with less than 20 ticks left, but Tenorio coughed up the costly turnover right after.

Raul Soyud, sidelined in the first two games, made his presence felt for the Road Warriors with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Brownlee churned out 27 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 blocks in the loss, while Christian Standhardinger put up a double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds.

The Scores

NLEX  86 – Clark 21, Alas 15, Chua 13, Soyud 11, Paniamogan 9, Rosales 7, Miranda 4, Trollano 4, Semerad 2, Nieto 0.

Ginebra  85 – Brownlee 27, Standhardinger 16, Thompson 13, Tenorio 10, Tolentino 9, Devance 6, Caperal 2, Chan 2, Pinto 0. 

Quarters: 16-19, 36-44, 59-62, 86-85.

– Rappler.com

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.