Road Warriors stay alive  

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Road Warriors stay alive   
Don Trollano of NLEX gets past Meralco’s Kyle Pascual and Chris Banchero in this bit of action in their game at the PhilSports Arena last night.
Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines —  It’s not the end of the road for NLEX yet.

The Road Warriors did their part to keep their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal drive alive by stealing a 92-81 victory over Meralco yesterday at the PhilSports Arena.

Coach Frankie Lim’s charges played the second half like there really was no more tomorrow to secure a gutsy fightback from 18 points down and avert outright elimination.

With a 5-7 closing elims record, the Road Warriors opened the possibility of still figuring in a rubbermatch for the eighth and last quarterfinal seat. But for this to happen, eighth-running Rain or Shine (5-6) must lose to Magnolia (9-2) in the last elims game tomorrow.

“Pumapalag pa,” said coach Frankie Lim, whose team beat Ginebra, 120-117, before making it back-to-back against Meralco (4-7) to get this small window of opportunity.

“Before the game, sabi ko sa kanila, I just want to think about this game, not the next. Just win this game and we’ll see what’s going to happen. Rain or Shine will play Magnolia and Meralco will still play San Miguel. Bahala sila sa game nila. Basta kami tapos na, hintay na lang kami,” he added.

NLEX’ win effectively handed the Beermen (6-5), NorthPort (6-6) and Phoenix (6-6) passes into the Last-8 along with Bay Area (10-2), Magnolia (9-2) and Ginebra and Converge, which are both 8-3 prior to their duel last night.

The result proved catastrophic for the Bolts, whose setbacks to both NLEX and ROS (113-86) would bite them hard even if they go on to beat SMB and catch up with the two at 5-7.

Under this scenario, the quotient tiebreak will be applied then the two highest, the Road Warriors and the E-Painters, will dispute No. 8 and the lowest ranked squad will bow out.

Import Earl Clark took charge in this lifeline-grabbing win by NLEX, firing 40 points to go with 11 rebounds.

In the nightcap, Justin Brownlee scattered 25 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists as Ginebra outclassed Converge, 115-96.

The Gin Kings took third at 9-3 with a chance to climb to No. 2 with a twice-to-beat bonus in the event of a tie with Magnolia while the FiberXers carded 8-4 for fourth seed.


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