(UPDATED) Veteran forward JR Quiñahan led the way as the NLEX Road Warriors took a crucial 90-73 victory over the Blackwater Bossing on Thursday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Road Warriors snapped a three-game slide in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, improving their record to 5-5 and boosting their chances of making it to the quarterfinals.
Blackwater, meanwhile, absorbed their 10th consecutive defeat of the conference. The hapless Bossing have now lost 18 straight games since the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, tying a record for futility set by Great Taste/Presto in 1980.
Five players reached double-digits for NLEX, with Quiñahan putting up 16 points and Philip Paniamogan adding 14 markers, built on four three-pointers. Don Trollano had 12 points and six boards, while Kevin Alas contributed 10 points. Raul Soyud was limited to two points but made up for it with 11 rebounds, six of which came on the offensive end.
"We wanted to go into this game with a sense of urgency," said Guiao, as NLEX had lost their past three games against Magnolia, TNT Tropang GIGA, and NorthPort. "Desperately, we needed the five wins. That's going to give us a chance to make the next round."
"We're also trying to build back our confidence after 'yung losses namin. So ganoon ka-importante 'tong panalo na 'to sa amin," he added.
Despite the final margin of victory, Guiao acknowledged that it was not a completely comfortable win for NLEX as the Bossing refused to go away despite their repeated efforts to break the game open.
The Road Warriors built a 13-point lead in the third quarter, 57-44, only for Simon Enciso to wax hot from beyond the arc and drag the Bossing back into the game. A layup by Paul Desiderio cut the deficit to just seven points, 59-52, with still five minutes left in the period.
It was Quiñahan who righted the ship for NLEX, as he scored six unanswered points capped by a three-pointer to restore a double-digit spread, 65-52, with just over two minutes to play in the third frame. NLEX rode that momentum into the fourth quarter, where they led by as much as 21 points, 90-69, off an Alas bucket.
"I don't think Blackwater is as weak as it seems. Malakas 'tong team na 'to, they just need to get together. 'Yun nga, nakakadikit sila sa mga kalaban nila. Kahit 'yung mga mabibigat na kalaban, nakadikit sila," said Guiao.
"Doon ako medyo kinabahan, baka makadikit sila. Buti na lang, noong patapos na, medyo nakalayo kami," he added.
In a game where neither team shot particularly well, the Road Warriors got it done inside the paint where they scored 40 of their 90 points. NLEX also had a massive 73-45 rebounding edge, and their 26 offensive rebounds led to 12 second-chance points.
Enciso finished with 17 points, and Carl Bryan Cruz had 14 for the Bossing. Marion Magat had six points, seven rebounds, four blocks, and two steals in an all-around performance.
Blackwater will try to avoid setting the PBA's record for futility when they play the Meralco Bolts on Saturday.
NLEX 90 -- Quiñahan 16, Paniamogan 14, Trollano 12, Ighalo 11, Alas 10, Porter 8, Cruz 8, OFtana 4, McAloney 3, Miranda 2, Soyud 2, Ayonayon 0.
BLACKWATER 73 -- Enciso 17, Cruz 14, Torralba 10, Canaleta 6, Golla 6, Magat 6, Daquioag 5, Desiderio 4, Tolomia 3, Escoto 2, Paras 0.
Quarter scores: 28-22, 46-38, 70-56, 90-73.