PBA: Clutch Kiefer to the rescue, as NLEX edges Meralco

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 09 2018 09:15 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2018 12:58 AM

Kiefer Ravena did his best Kobe Bryant impression, sinking the game winning turnaround jumper to lift NLEX past Meralco on Friday. PBA Media Bureau

Kiefer Ravena scored 21 points, including the winning jumper with nearly no time left on the game clock, to help NLEX top Meralco 87-85 in the PBA Philippine Cup at Cuneta Astrodome on Friday.

NLEX appeared ready to go home with the win much earlier when Ravena's stepback 3-pointer and 2 free throws by JR QuiƱahan broke a tied game and gave the Road Warriors an 85-82 lead with 18 seconds left.

But Chris Newsome's 3-point play on a barreling layup and a bonus free throw off Ravena's foul knotted the score again.

NLEX then called the final play for Ravena, who buried the fadeaway 16-footer with Newsome virtually draped on him on defense.

NLEX upped its record to 4-4 to tie with 3 other teams, while Meralco fell to 2-6.

"Kiefer just made the big shots like a veteran, like somebody who is a 10-year veteran in this league," NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao said.

"I had no hesitation setting up the plays for him because I know he will make the right decisions. Whether he made those shots or not, I would not have faulted him for the decisions that he made."

It was an efficient night for the rookie, who shot 7 of 12 from the field, and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line. He added 7 rebounds, 4 assists and just 1 turnover.

Ravena stood out on a night when former Ateneo Blue Eagles players stepped up for NLEX and Meralco.

Larry Fonacier chipped in 17 points on a perfect 4-of-4 clip from 3-point land for NLEX.

For Meralco, Nico Salva led the way with 20 points (9 of 12 from the field), while Newsome registered 15 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists in 44 turnover-less minutes.

NLEX fell behind by as many as 18 points early, then stormed back to make it a game in the second quarter. It was a see-saw battle between the two after halftime.

"It's a good thing we recovered," Guiao said of the weak start. "But I don't like winning this way. It's just too pressure-packed, too tension-filled. It's good for the fans, but it's bad for the coaches."

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