NLEX stuns Ginebra to spoil Slaughter’s return


MANILA — The NLEX Road Warriors spoiled the return of Greg Slaughter to Barangay Ginebra after a four-game absence due to a hamstring injury, stunning the Kings with a come-from-behind 81-78 victory in the PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.

NLEX thus snapped a four-game losing streak to improve to a 3-4 win-loss mark, tying Ginebra and idle Phoenix at seventh to ninth place in the standings.

Larry Fonacier led the Road Warriors with 17 points while JR Quinahan added 14 points off the bench, including two straight clutch baskets, the last one giving NLEX the lead for good, 79-77, with 1:57 left. Cyrus Baguio also provided some sparks for NLEX, firing 13 points, 11 of them in the final period. Alex Mallari chipped in 11 markers.

Slaughter had the chance to tie the game at the charity stripe but missed his second of two free throws with 5.6 seconds left. Sol Mercado then compounded Ginebra’s woes with a turnover that resulted in a technical free throw by Fonacier followed by a split from the stripe by Kiefer Ravena for the final score.

Ginebra appeared to be in control of the game early in the third quarter after erecting a 14-point lead, 50-36. The Road Warriors, however, methodically chewed off the Kings’ lead. With Ginebra still up, 77-75, after a Slaughter basket, Quinahan nailed a short jumper after a Fonacier steal to level the score. The burly undersized NLEX center then scored on a putback off a missed three-pointer by Mallari that allowed the Road Warriors to seize the lead for good with less than two minutes left.

Ginebra’s offense went haywire in the face of NLEX’s tough defense.

Japeth Aguilar led Ginebra with 21 points, seven boards, two assists, one steal, and one block in 33 minutes. However, the lanky forward missed an open three-point attempt from the right corner that could have given Ginebra back the lead in the dying moments of the game.

Games Sunday: Alaska Aces (5-2) vs. GlobalPort Batang Pier (3-3) and Magnolia Hotshots (6-1) vs. San Miguel Beer (5-1).