14 May 2015

Bolts 84, NLEX 91

Bolts vs NLEX
With one of its two imports injured NLEX was looking for any edge it could use against Meralco.

Good thing one was found and exploited, resulting in a 91-84 victory last 13 May that snapped the Road Warriors out of their funk in the PBA Governors Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Kwame Alexander notched 29 points and 17 rebounds and Asi Taulava 20 and 10 as NLEX repeatedly asserted its might inside against its sister team that played the most part without a true center.

Some outside sniping from KG Canaleta and a late burst from Macmac Cardona were of tremendous help as NLEX joined its victim and idle San Miguel Beer at seventh-running spot on identical 1-2 slates, quite a leap from 11th before the game.

“We really planned to put the ball in the post because it’s only Reynel (Hugnatan), (James) Sena guarding Asi,” said Road Warriors coach Boyet Fernandez following the win, which he said is also about pride.

“Motivation talaga namin tonight is to get a win. Medyo pressured ‘yung mga bata, NLEX lang ‘yung walang win, eh,” related Fernandez. “It’s also a bragging right for us, kasi talagang competitive itong sister teams.”

Making the win more impressive is the fact NLEX pulled it off despite the absence of import Michael Madanly, who was nursing a neck injury.

"He has no feel on his back, strained pa rin. Bugbog from his shoulder to his back," said Fernandez of the Iranian, who suffered the injury in the opening game against Barako Bull. He wound up with 26 points in that game but only had eight in an 85-89 loss to Star also last Saturday.

Andre Emmett and new import Seiya Ando tried to carry the fight from the outside for Meralco and had some success. But even their combined efforts could not prevent NLEX’s endgame surge from a 76-78 count.

Emmett wound up with 44 points, which was right around his average, to go with 11 rebounds while Ando added 18 in his debut. They also accounted for all of the Bolts’ eight triples.

Sadly head for coach Norman Black, no other Meralco player managed to score in double digits with Gary David, coming off a 23-point game in a 106-95 win over SMB, the most notable absentee with just two charities after missing all eight of his field goal tries.

Even Danny Ildefonso, only utilized late in the game, attempted only once and missed that, too.

Madanly’s absence was hardly felt as Alexander and Taulava practically imposed their will all game long that resulted in as much as a 55-45 lead before getting the much-needed support in the endgame.

Alexander canned two free throws to give NLEX more space from a 78-76 count before Canaleta highlighted his 13-point performance with his third triple of the night that made it an 83-76 game.

After Emmett drained a floater and completed a three-point play that closed the Bolts to within 81-85, Jonas Villanueva picked up an Alexander miss and turned it into a reverse layup, effectively crushing Meralco’s spirit.

Cardona, who scored all nine of his points in the fourth period after missing his first five tries from the field, added two freebies and Emmett’s last-gasp trey was negated by Canaleta’s own charities for the final count.

Emmett and Ando scored all but four of Meralco’s 23 points in the third quarter while NLEX’s offense was more balanced as the two went into the final frame the way they started the final 24 minutes of play: the Road Warriors ahead by four.

For a long while, it looked as if the efforts of Ando, a former star in Japan’s Under-18 national squad, would be rewarded as he led the way in the Bolts’ fightback from the 10-point deficit and to within 57-59.

Back-to-back dunks by Taulava and Alexander, however, ensured the Road Warriors would stay with the margin.

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