NLEX picked up its slack late and scored a come-from-behind 90-86 win against Blackwater Friday in the 2016 Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup at Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Sean Anthony almost flirted with a triple-double with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists while Asi Taulava paced the Road Warriors with 19 markers.
“It’s a tough win. At least Sean really stepped up in the fourth, Asi made his free throws, and our defense held up,” said coach Boyet Fernandez.
Rookie Simon Enciso also had a rousing debut with 15 points, while Mark Borboran got 10.
NLEX used a 9-2 run to grab an 85-78 lead with 3:19 left to play before a feisty Blackwater squad rampaged back and got to as close as one.
The Elite still had a chance to tie the game in the final 19.3 seconds, but Reil Cervantes muffed his trey and the Road Warriors ran away with the win.
“We just have to know where we have to go in the end game. We’re up by eight points, had some forced shots, but our defense made us get some stops,” said Fernandez.
It was a sorry loss for Blackwater, which had a chance to open a season with a victory after finishing with just four overall the last season.
New recruit Keith Agovida led the Elite with 15 points, followed by Raphy Reyes’ 13.
NLEX 90 – Taulava 19, Enciso 15, Anthony 14, Borboran 10, J. Villanueva 8, Apinan 6, Cardona 5, Reyes 5, Alas 4, Khobuntin 4, Arboleda 0.
BLACKWATER 86 – Agovida 15, Reyes 13, Cervantes 12, Ballesteros 10, Lastimosa 7, Gamalinda 6, Sena 6, Cortez 5, Canada 3, Erram 2, Golla 2, Bulawan 0, Vosotros 0.
Quarters: 17-26, 41-42, 60-59, 90-86.