NLEX needed a four-point play by Larry Fonacier down the stretch to survive the unconventional ways of Kia, 119-115, Wednesday in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The veteran sharpshooter got hit and still converted on a right wing trey before completing the bonus off a foul from Philip Paniamogan with 1:06 remaining to give the Road Warriors a 117-113 lead.
JayR Reyes and Paniamogan tried to bring the Picanto back in the game, but they muffed their triples in the last 15.5 seconds left. JR Quiñahan then, iced the game from the charity stripe.
“It was exactly what we expected, a hard earned win for us,” said NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao.
Kiefer Ravena, the second overall pick by NLEX, proved to be good as advertised as he flirted with a triple-double with 18 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds with two steals to boot in his PBA debut.
Kevin Alas came off the bench and added 14 markers and five boards, Michael Miranda got 14 points and two rebounds, and Alex Mallari had 13 markers and three boards in a balanced attack for the Road Warriors.
Fonacier shot 3-of-5 from beyond the arc to wind up with 12 points and four rebounds, while Quiñahan and Rabeh Al-Hussaini combined for 24 markers and 15 boards in the win.
“We’ll take this win no matter how hard it was,” said Guiao, as NLEX had to fight from behind and even stared at a 13-point lead at numerous points in the second quarter. “What we’re trying to do here is build momentum and confidence and chemistry in the team.”
NLEX discard Eric Camson sizzled in the game against his former squad as he went for a team-best 24 points on a 9-of-19 shooting on top of nine rebounds for Kia.
New recruit Rashawn McCarthy contributed 14 markers, six boards, and five assists, while Jackson Corpuz got 13 points and nine rebounds in the defeat.
NLEX 119 — Ravena 18, Miranda 14, Alas 14, Mallari 13, Fonacier 12, Al-Hussaini 12, Quiñahan 12, Tiongson 11, Baguio 5, Soyud 4, Ighalo 4, Taulava 0.
KIA 115 — Camson 24, McCarthy 14, Corpuz 13, Reyes 12, Galanza 12, Celda 9, Ababou 9, Khobuntin 8, Paniamogan 7, Tubid 4, Yee 3, Caperal 0.
Quarters: 36-40, 64-68, 90-92, 119-115.