Fuller to the rescue
NLEX wasn’t expecting too much from Aaron Fuller after playing his first competitive ball in almost five months.
But Fuller readily proved his worth in lifting the Road Warriors past the Columbian Dyip, 116-104, Wednesday night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I told coach Yeng (Guiao) before the game that he’s (Fuller) rusty but he’s gonna be fresh,” said NLEX assistant coach Jojo Lastimosa after chalking up his third win in four games as a pinch hitter for Guiao, who is handling the national team in the Asian Games in Indonesia.
“I was the most surprised guy after seeing him last for over 40 minutes,” added Lastimosa.
In the second game, Alaska turned back Phoenix and former player Calvin Abueva, 108-97, behind import Mike Harris’ 23 points.
Abueva had 18 points against his former team, which broke away from a close match in the fourth period.
Playing with little relief, Fuller was visibly familiar with the NLEX brand of execution, winding up with double-double figures of 35 points and 21 rebounds apart from seven assists.
“We just want to come out aggressive and get this win. We’re trying to handle business while coach Yeng is away,” said Fuller, who brought the Road Warriors to their first playoff appearance in the quarterfinals of the same conference last year.
Fuller has been tapped as a replacement for Ola Ashaolu, who is undergoing treatment for his injured right knee.
Guiao will be back in Manila on Saturday, but won’t show up on the NLEX bench against San Miguel Beer on that day.
“Against San Miguel? I’d like to go up against strong teams,” said Lastimosa, who was forced to forgo his coaching chores in another league on Friday in General Santos City after Guiao told him to stick around.
“We like our situation now, we’re doing a little better on defense and that will be our weapon moving forward,” said Lastimosa.
The Road Warriors shut down the offense-oriented Dyip in the final quarter where they sped away for good through an avalanche of three-pointers from JR Quinahan, Larry Fonacier and Juami Tiongson.
For the third straight game, Jerramy King and Akeem Wright were consistently shooting the lights out on the floor, but those efforts were not enough for the Dyip to notch their first win of the conference.
Wright fired 37 points while King added 22 for the Dyip.
The Road Warriors, meanwhile, got four other locals in double figures to backstop Fuller, with Fonacier, the sweet-shooting former national team mainstay, chipping in 17.
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