MANILA, Philippines – Six days after being on a high from getting their first ever win in franchise history, the Elite suffered a miserable 27-point loss against the NLEX Road Warriors, 106-79, on Tuesday, February 17, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Blackwater fell to 1-4 in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, while the Road Warriors obtained their first win of the conference in 4 games.
“We hope that this will be a good start for us looking forward to our next games. We’re facing the top three teams, including San Miguel for sure, before the All-Star break,” said NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez, whose team was decimated by the Purefoods Star Hotshots, 87-62, in their last game.
Fernandez shared in the post-game press conference that NLEX’s upper management talked to the team prior to Tuesday’s game, and he believes it helped bring out their inspired performance.
“The management just told the boys they don’t mind losing, but losing against the Purefoods the way we played is not acceptable, and I think it was a wake-up call for everyone.”
It looked like no one took the message more to heart than import Al Thornton, who looked dominant against Elite import Marcus Douthit and the rest of his team, finishing with 39 points on 14-of-20 shooting, 4-of-5 from downtown, and 15 rebounds in just 33:46 minutes.
“I do credit his guts. He knows and he understands the situation,” Fernandez said about his leading scorer. “And I’m really happy that I have an import na malawak ang iniisip eh (that has a broad mind). So I’m very happy for that.”
No other Road Warrior scored in double-figures, but KG Canaleta, Rudy Lingganay, Enrico Villanueva, and Jonas Villanueva each had 9 points. All-Star big man Asi Taulava and John Hermida put up 8 markers apiece.
NLEX, who shot a scorching 55% from the field and 44% from deep, raced off to an 11-4 start to the game that turned into a 24-11 lead at the conclusion of the first quarter.
The contest only got worse for Blackwater, as they stared at a 55-27 deficit at the half following a buzzer-beating jumper from Aldrech Ramos.
“We’ve been practicing really well, but we didn’t materialize it in [our past] games,” said Fernandez. “So I just cleared it up with the players and I’m happy we were in one page on that day,” he added about one of the team’s practice session this past week.
The Elite made just 34% of their shots, went 8-of-26 from 3-point range, and were a disappointing 13-of-22 from the foul stripe. They were killed in the rebounding battle, 61-36, and inside the paint, where the Road Warriors converted 44 points.
Douthit finished with 15 points on 5-of-21 shooting and 12 rebounds. Robby Celiz put up 15 markers, while Bryan Faundo played well with 17 markers and 6 boards.
NLEX’s bench stepped up to the challenge, putting up a total of 46 points. The only blemish on the team’s performance was their turnovers, which led to 16 Blackwater points.
Fernandez, Thornton, and the rest of their team will be back in action on Friday, February 20, to take on the 4-1 Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters.
The Elite, on the other hand, will go up against the 2-3 GlobalPort Batang Pier on Sunday, February 22.
NLEX (106): Thornton 39, Canaleta 9, Lingganay 9, Villanueva Jonas 9, Villanueva Enrico 9, Hermida 8, Taulava 8, Cardona 7, Ramos 4, Arboleda Wynne 2, Baloria 2, Camson 0, Borboran 0, Apinan 0, Soyud 0
Blackwater (79): Faundo 17, Celiz 15, Douthit 15, Reyes 8, Heruela 7, Laure 7, Bulawan 6, Acuna 4, Canada 0, Timberlake 0, Nuyles 0, Erram 0, Ballesteros 0, Gamalinda 0, Salvacion 0
Quarter Scoring: 24-11, 55-27, 84-49, 106-79.