KIEFER TOWS NLEX
Rookie sensation’s late-game heroics leads Road Warriors to first-ever playoff victory
Kiefer Ravena weaved his magic in the endgame anew as NLEX came away with a 105-99 victory over Alaska in Game 1 of their 2018 PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals series Monday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The super rookie first setup Michael Miranda for the go-ahead basket with 22.7 seconds left to give the Road Warriors a 98-96 lead, before converting a layup off a jump ball to make it, 100-96, with 18.8 ticks remaining.
Simon Enciso kept the Aces in the game with a triple with 8.8 seconds left, but Ravena iced the deal with a pair of foul shots in the last 7.8 for a 103-99 cushion.
Ravena, the second overall pick in the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft, finished with 25 points and eight assists.
Game 2 is set on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum with No. 3 Alaska looking to force a deciding Game 3.
“I’m just relieved that Game 1 is over,” said NLEX Coach Yeng Guiao as the franchise got its first ever playoff victory.
“The good news is we won this one. The bad news is we have to go through this again and it will be harder on Wednesday.”
Guiao, though, did warn his wards against complacency.
“This series is not over. Of course we have an advantage, but with Alaska, they’ve been through a lot more difficult situations and they’ve come out of those situations pretty good.”
Larry Fonacier drilled 18 markers, built on four treys, including a huge four-point play from the right corner with 2:40 to play that knotted the score at 96 and set up the wild finish. He also got nine boards.
Kevin Alas added 17 points, six assists, and five rebounds off the bench, while JR Quiñahan registered a double-double with 12 markers and 10 boards.
Chris Banchero had 20 points and five rebounds, while Abueva wound up with 18 markers, 13 boards, three assists, and two blocks for the Aces.
NLEX 105 — Ravena 25, Fonacier 18, Alas 17, Quiñahan 12, Miranda 10, Baguio 8, Al-Hussaini 4, Soyud 4, Taulava 4, Tiongson 3, Gotladera 0, Mallari 0.
ALASKA 99 — Banchero 20, Abueva 18, Enciso 16, Thoss 11, Casio 8, Magat 4, Racal 4, Teng 4, Baclao 1, Cruz 0, Exciminiano 0.
Quarters: 24-22, 50-40, 74-72, 105-99.
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