Ballesteros plays big for Meralco in the clutch, Alas powers NLEX

NLEX Road Warriors 93 – Blackwater 90

Kevin Alas caught fire in the final period as he led the NLEX Road Warriors to a playoff berth with a big win over the tough Blackwater Elite.

Early in the game, it seemed like Blackwater was going to pull off another big win. Their defense limited NLEX to just 18 points in the second quarter as the Elite zoomed to a five-point lead heading into halftime. The Elite continued to run their efficient offense in the third quarter getting buckets from almost everyone on the team. They built a nine-point lead behind the scoring of Mac Belo, James Sena and Raymar Jose.

The Road Warriors needed a shot of energy and they got it from Kevin Alas. He caught fire in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his 25 points. He hit four three-pointers in the final period alone. The Elite’s nine-point lead was erased when Alas and Kiefer Ravena buried three straight treys. Blackwater continued to fight but Alas kept the Road Warriors in the game. He hit back-to-back treys to give NLEX a two-point lead.

With three minutes left in the game, Alas buried a jumper to give his team a five-point lead. NLEX kept that safe cushion the rest of the way. Alas finished the game with five treys in total to lead his team in scoring. Ravena added 23 points three rebounds and three steals.

Meralco Bolts 84 – Barangay Ginebra 82

The Meralco Bolts keep their playoff hopes alive thanks to a monster performance by Jason Ballesteros. The big man made huge plays in the end game to lead Meralco over Barangay Ginebra.

Just like in their previous match-ups, this was a game of runs between the two teams. Ginebra pulled ahead in the first quarter thanks to the early dominance of Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar. In the second period, it was Garvo Lanete and Anjo Caram that led the way for Meralco. The two found their range in the second period as the Bolts surged ahead of Ginebra heading into halftime. Ginebra found their bearings in the third quarter as they pulled to within three points turning the game into a nip and tuck affair heading into the final period.

In the final minutes of the fourth period, Thompson hit a freebie to give Ginebra a four-point lead. But Meralco wouldn’t allow them to pull away any further. Lanete and Reynel Hugnatan scored on back-to-back jumpers to give the Bolts a one-point lead. LA Tenorio was fouled initiating the play for Ginebra and he cooly sank two freebies to give his team the lead back.

In the next possession, Meralco ran a play to get Chris Newsome an open look. He missed the shot but Ballesteros was there to tip in the shot and give Meralco the lead. On the defensive end, he planted himself in the paint and grabbed a crucial rebound off the Thompson miss. Ballesteros was fouled after the rebound and split his freebies leaving Ginebra a chance for the game-winner. But Ballesteros was there again to defend Aguilar’s three-pointer helping Meralco survive.

Photo from PBA.ph

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