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Bolick, rookie Valdez carry NLEX past Meralco in thriller

March 7 ------ ROBERT Bolick and rookie Enoch Valdez made the key plays down the stretch to lift NLEX to a 99-96 thriller over Meralco in the PBA 48th Season Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. Bolick nailed two free throws with one minute left off a steal by Valdez to give the Road Warriors a 92-91 lead. Valdez then stretched the gap to three by scoring a lay-up following another steal with 39.4 seconds. NLEX still had work to do in the final seconds, breathing easy only after Chris Newsome missed a potentially tying three-pointer at the buzzer. Bolick finished with 26 points while Valdez chipped in 12 as NLEX won for the second time in three games while sending Meralco to its second loss in three games in the season-ending conference.


Bolick had 16 points in the fourth quarter alone while adding eight rebounds and four assists. Valdez also contributed six rebounds, and three steals for t he Road Warriors, who were outscored, 29-13, in the third but came alive in the final quarter by going small ball. "I warned our team about our third-quarter collapse. It happens all the time. Ayun, nangyari na naman, it was a 15-point swing," said NLEX coach Frankie Lim. "We just have to give extra effort. It's the first time we played all small. Maganda naman ang naging resulta. We have a lot of offensive options," said Lim.


Chris Newsome had 22 points and eight rebounds, while Raymar Jose contributed 14 points for the Bolts.


The scores:

NLEX 99 - Bolick 26, Valdez 12, Nermal 11, Herndon 9, Semerad 9, Miranda 7, Marcelo 7, Fajardo 6, Nieto 5, Amer 3, Ular 2, Pascual 2.

Meralco 96 - Newsome 22, Jose 14, Almazan 13, Maliksi 12, Hodge 10, Torres 9, Black 5, Quinto 5, Banchero 4, Rios 2, Mendoza 0, Caram 0, Pascual 0.


Quarters: 26-28; 43-51; 72-64; 99-96.



Editor's Note:

BLACKWATER stretched its hot start in the PBA 48th Season Philippine Cup, routing Converge, 90-78. The Bossing led from start to finish, even taking a 35-point lead at one point in the terribly lopsided game to gain the solo lead in the eliminations with a 3-0 win-loss record, continuing their stellar start this conference. Blackwater is now one win away from the best unbeaten start in franchise history which it achieved during the 2018 Governors’ Cup. It also equaled its 3-0 mark to begin the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup to become the unlikely leader of the conference.




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