NLEX survived a late rally of Rain or Shine to escape with a 100-97 win in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Poy Erram made a crucial block on Elasto Painters import Denzel Bowles and new import Olu Ashaolu hit two big free throws with 5.1 ticks left in the game as the Road Warriors kept alive their slim bid of advancing tothe next round with a 2-7 win-loss mark.
Ashaolu, who will also be the team’s import for the season-ending conference, finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to lead NLEX while Jericho Cruz had another solid game for the Road Warriors with 15 points, six rebounds and six assists.
“We’re just getting ourselves ready for the next conference. In the meantime, we’ll just get as many wins as we can,” said NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao.
“We’ll see what will happen. If we win two more, we don’t know if we can tie or what,” he added.
Trailing 64-81 after three quarters, Rain or Shine trimmed the lead to just one, 97-98, on Kris Rosales’ triple with 32 seconds left.
The Elasto Painters had the chance to take the lead after NLEX’s turnover in the next play but Bowles’ potential game-winner was swatted by Erram and Ashaolu pegged the final score with two free throws.
Bowles’ desperation heave was way off the target as Rain or Shine dropped to 3-4 in the team standings.
Bowles led the Elasto painters with 35 points while Rosales scored a season-high 18 markers.