Rookie Kiefer Ravena took charge like a grizzled veteran in the crunch, delivering a bunch of to-die-for baskets as NLEX pulled off a nerve-wracking 87-85 win over Meralco to further boost its playoff drive in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome Friday night.
Ravena made one clutch shot after another, including the game-winning turnaround basket off Chris Newsome with nine-tenths of a second left.
The crowd erupted and the NLEX bench whooped it up as the Bolts could no longer make a decent last shot, allowing the Road Warriors to catch up with the Phoenix Fuel Masters, the TNT KaTropa Texters and the Barangay Ginebra Kings at fifth place at 4-4.
The Bolts blew an early 18-point bulge and a 10-point spread in the last five minutes of play as they reeled to a sixth loss against two wins.
“We haven’t had an easy game in the last two games we played. Those were hard wins, and we just got lucky on both times,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, lauding Ravena for saving the game for them against Meralco.
NLEX 87 — Ravena 21, Fonacier 17, Alas 15, Mallari 12, Al-Hussaini 6, Quiñahan 6, Baguio 4, Gotladera 2, Miranda 2, Monfort 2, Uyloan 0, Soyud 0, Taulava 0.
Meralco 85 — Salva 20, Newsome 15, Amer 14, Hugnatan 10, Lanete 10, Caram 7, Canaleta 4, Hodge 3, Bono 2, Dillinger 0, Tolomia 0.
Quarters: 10-26, 38-37, 62-65, 87-85.