Kiefer, Mallari make winning plays as NLEX takes 1-0 lead over Magnolia
Paul Lintag on Mar 10, 2018 08:49 PM
Kiefer Ravena, the hero anew for NLEX.
Alex Mallari, a former Grand Slam champion with San Mig Coffee, just burned his former team.
Taking a pass from Kiefer Ravena, Mallari drilled a wide-open triple in the final 14.4 seconds and NLEX dropped Magnolia, 88-87, in Game 1 of the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals Saturday at the Big Dome.
Down one, 83-84, Ravena collapsed the Magnolia defense and then found Mallari for the booming go-ahead triple.
In the ensuing possession, Paul Lee missed the answer for the Hotshots and Kiefer secured the rebound, making an additional two free throws for insurance.
Lee then made up for his earlier miss, connecting on a corner triple with 4.5 seconds to go to cut the deficit to one, 87-88. Magnolia then actually forced a turnover for a chance to win but Ravena saved NLEX, making a counter steal and forcing the Hotshots to foul.
JR Quinahan missed two free throws with less than a second left and the Road Warriors managed to hold on, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7.
"We knew coming into this game that it would be a defensive matchup so had to finetune our execution," head coach Yeng Guiao said.
"So we really worked hard on our execution and at the same time, sinubukan naming humanap ng paraan para ma-control si Paul [Lee] and we actually succeeded at least partly and we won the game," he added.
The first half was an ugly defensive struggle for both teams as NLEX only took a 32-27 lead at the break.
However, action picked up in the third period as Mark Barroca sparked the Magnolia offense.
Both teams then traded blows in the fourth, setting up the wild finish.
Cyrus Baguio put up a vintage performance for NLEX, scoring a team-high 17 points, eight in the fourth quarter.
Ravena and Mallari scored 16 and 14 respectively for NLEX while Raul Soyud added another 10.
For the Hotshots, it was Ian Sangalang that led the way with 21 points while PJ Simon turned back the clock to finish with 20.
A cause of concern for Magnolia, more than being down 0-1, is Marc Pingris as the veteran forward left the game left in the final quarter due to an apparent knee injury.
Game 2 is set for Monday at the MOA Arena.
NLEX 88 - Baguio 17, Ravena 16, Mallari 14, Soyud 10, Miranda 7, Fonacier 7, Al-Hussaini 6, Alas 5, Quiñahan 4, Tiongson 2, Ighalo 0, Taulava 0, Gotladera 0.
MAGNOLIA 87 - Sangalang 21, Simon 20, Barroca 9, Lee 8, Ramos 8, Reavis 6, Herndon 5, Pingris 5, Dela Rosa 5, Melton 0, Jalalon 0, Brondial 0.
Quarters: 14-12, 32-27, 60-61, 88-87.
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