NLEX edges Meralco on Ravena heroics


MANILA — The NLEX Road Warriors climbed up from an 18-point abyss to beat the Meralco Bolts, 87-85, on the heroics of super rookie Kiefer Ravena in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Playing with the poise of a veteran, Ravena drilled the game-winner — a tough turnaround fall-away jumper off Meralco’s Chris Newsome with nine-tenths of a second left — to lift NLEX to its second straight win and fourth overall in eight games.

It was also the second time that Road Warriors came back from a double-digit deficit to pull off a nerve-wracking victory just before the final buzzer sounded. Last week NLEX defeated Ginebra, 81-78.

The victory allowed NLEX to tie Phoenix, TNT, and Ginebra, all with a 4-4 win-loss card, at fifth place to eighth place in the standings.

Before scoring the game-winner, Ravena also drilled a tough three-pointer that gave NLEX the lead, 83-82, with 43 seconds left. JR Quinahan extended NLEX's' lead to 85-82 on two free throws. But the Bolts managed to knot the score on a three-point play by Newsome against Ravena.

But the 24-year-old player known as the “The Phenom” would not be denied the win as he responded with a clutch jumper after faking a spin that momentarily got Newsome off his face.

Ravena finished with a team-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, along with seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, and only one turnover in 29 minutes off the bench.

Larry Fonacier added 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, four of them three-pointers, on top of six rebounds. Kevin Alas contributed 15 markers and six rebounds.

Nico Salva led Meralco with 20 points off the bench. The Bolts led by as much 18 points in the first half and were still up by 10 points, 82-72, with five minutes left.

But an 11 to zero blast by the Road Warriors capped by Ravena’s final five points sent Meralco reeling to their sixth loss in eight games as the Bolts fell to second to last place in the standings, heading for an early exit in the conference.

Blackwater 106, San Miguel Beer 96

The Blackwater Elite brought down the defending champion San Miguel Beer with a stunning 106-96 victory on Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

Rising stars Mike Digregorio and Poy Erram led the Elite to the resounding win as Blackwater improved to a 3-5 win-loss record, keeping alive its playoff hopes.

Digregorio topscored for the Elite with a season-high 26 points, including five three-pointers, the last one giving Blackwater an insurmountable 14-point lead, 106-92, with less than a minute left.

The third-year Fil-Am gunner also made five assists, grabbed five rebounds and committed just one turnover in 33 minutes of play.

Erram dominated both ends of the court, even outplaying four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, as he finished with 24 points, 18 rebounds, three blocks, three assists, two steals, and just one error. Allein Maliksi and James Sena added 11 and 10 markers, respectively.

Blackwater won despite missing the services of injured standout forward Mac Belo. Before Friday’s game, Blackwater had lost four straight games after beating title contender Ginebra on Jan. 12.

The Beermen absorbed only their second loss in eight games, allowing Magnolia and Alaska to join them from first to third spot in the standings.

The tough Blackwater defense limited Fajardo to just 12 points on a miserable 3-of-11 shooting in more than 39 minutes of play. The Beermen badly missed the services of injured starter Alex Cabagnot and Gabby Espinas.

Arwind Santos led the Beermen with 22 points, including five three-pointers. Chris Ross had 20 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists while Marcio Lassiter added 13 markers that all went down the drain.

Game on Saturday, Feb. 10: Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (4-3) vs. Magnolia Hotshots (6-2)