NLEX survives struggling Star, snaps three-game skid
NLEX stopped its bleeding in this wet, cold evening, topping Star and new import Joel Wright, 88-85, in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Henry Walker checked his personal slump and the Road Warriors came off the rut, moving up to sixth place with a first win in their last four games and second in five games in all.
In practice Thursday, Walker and coach Boyet Fernandez had their own talk, with the import promising: “Coach, I’ve got your back and whatever happens, I’ll go all out.”
Walker did just that, pouring in 32 points, including five three-pointers, to lead the team back on the winning track.
Wright brought in good stuffs in his PBA debut but failed to get the Hotshots to a good finish, and the team went down with a fourth loss against a lone win.
Not helping the Hotshots were a couple of bad decisions by point guard Mark Barroca in the closing seconds.
Barroca missed their last crack at forcing overtime in the dying seconds.
Earlier with the Hotshots trailing 83-86 with 26.8 seconds to go, Barroca — after a rebound — opted not to call a timeout and went coast to coast for a layup that he missed.
The Road Warriors then made it 88-83 on charities by Jonas Villanueva and Asi Taulava.
The Hotshots got one last shot at forging OT following two fouls shots by Wright and two bungled ones by Rodrigue Akl.
NLEX, however, put up a good defense, denying the Hotshots a clear shot at a possible trey.
Garvo Lanete fired three straight treys at the start of the fourth quarter and finished with 15 markers while Villanueva and Taulava chipped in 10 points apiece.
Wright came through with 28 points and 15 rebounds against five turnovers in his initial outing with the Hotshots.
Barroca and Marc Pingris added a combined output of 29 points.
With just three turnovers as against Star’s 11, NLEX held sway most of the first half and carried a three-point lead, 42-39, into the final half.
Walker had had 18 in the first half, 12 he made in the opening quarter where they led by seven at 29-22.
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