NLEX turned its game up several notches in the second half to fashion a come-from-behind 105-102 win over Terrafirma Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Kevin Alas scored a game-high 24 points on top of six assists but the ample help provided by Calvin Oftana and JR Quinahan proved to be indispensable in the Road Warriors launching their campaign on a bright note.
"I am very happy with the way we won because makikita mo 'yung character ng team," said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao after his team completed its fightback from as many as 16 points down before holding off Terrafirma's endgame surge.
"Kaya naming magbalik... kayod hanggang huli. I look at it as a good sign of the character of this team," added Guiao.
The loss is a very sorry one for the Dyip, who failed to hold on to a 47-31 halftime spread before coming up just short in the endgame.
Ed Daquioag's contested 3 and Juami Tiongson's technical free throw moved Terrafirma to within 102-103 and the Dyip even had the chance to wrest back the lead in the last 3.2 seconds when Joshua Munzon forced a turnover on Justin Chua in the Road Warriors' ensuing inbound.
But Munzon himself spelled Terrafirma's doom when he lost the ball to the sideline while hurriedly trying to make it past two defenders.
Oftana then pegged the final count with two charities in the final second, sealing a 20-point game in which he scored 18 of those in the fourth quarter.
Veteran Quinahan also gave a good account of himself with 18 points, 12 of those coming in the third period where fellow reliever Don Trollano scattered nine of his own 15 markers.
Tiongson and Aldrech Ramos wound up with 18 points each with Munzon and Daquioag adding 15 and 14, respectively. Likewise spoiled was the PBA debut of Javi Gomez de Liano, who only had four points but added nine rebounds and five dimes.
Joseph Gabayni led Terrafirma's first half attack with all 12 of his points as the Dyip pounced on NLEX's 10-for-38 field shooting and nine turnovers to race to an early 41-25 lead before maintaining that 16-point difference at the break.
"First half namin sobrang sama ng shooting namin. We were shooting 26 percent yata nu'ng first half," noted Guiao. "Kasama na rin iyung may malas and you have to give credit to their defense. Pero nu'ng nakuha na namin 'yung rhythm namin nakabawi kami sa second half." (NC) (PBA)