NLEX wins, enters playoffs

JP Erram of NLEX plucks the rebound over James Sena of Blackwater during their PBA Philippine Cup game Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

NLEX scored its second straight win at the expense of also-ran Blackwater, 122-101, to fortify its playoff hopes in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Riding on a huge 91-70 win over Alaska earlier this week, the Road Warriors caught the Elite off guard early in the first half to erect a 57-42 lead at the break.

There was no stopping NLEX from there as it extended the gap to as many as 29 points en route to its second win in a row.

The Road Warriors improved to 4-5 win-loss slate to enter the playoff picture at seventh place with still two games left in their campaign.

“We’ve been hitting our stride lately. We had a good game against Alaska and another good game today. We’re kicking but I hope it’s not too late,” said head coach Yeng Guiao.

“It’s a good development for us to stay alive and survive. We’re just looking to extend our conference and see what happens.”

Stepping up for injured Kevin Alas and suspended Kiefer Ravena, Philip Paniamogan shone for the Road Warriors with 25 points, three rebounds and nine assists.

Bong Galanza and Kenneth Ighalo also contributed with 18 and 17 points, respectively, while John Paul Erram dropped a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds on top of two blocks in his first game against his former team.

Blackwater, meanwhile, has been officially kicked out of contention with 2-8 mark despite the 20 points and seven rebounds of veteran gunner Allein Maliksi.

Rookies Abu Tratter and Paul Desiderio also impressed with 16 and 12 points, respectively, for the Elite.