Calvin Oftana converted a game-winning layup with 6.1 seconds left on the game clock as NLEX survived Meralco, 81-80, Wednesday afternoon in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The 3rd overall pick of the 2021 PBA Draft finished with 12 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Anthony Semerad paced the Kiefer Ravena-less team with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting spiked by 5 three-pointers while Don Trollano scored 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists. Jericho Cruz contributed 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Road Warriors just need to win the next game to advance to the semifinal round.
“Yeah. It was intended for (Calvin Oftana). It went exacly as we planned it. But of course, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t happen for you. But we’re really lucky that it happened for us this time,” Yeng Guiao’s response when asked if the last play was designed for the 6-foot-5 forward out of San Beda.
“We’re just trying to survive every game. Meralco is a really strong team. Since this tournament started, they’ve been really solid. There’s a reason why they are second place,” he added.
Allein Maliksi topscored for the Bolts with 16 points on 42% shooting from the field to go along with 2 rebounds and 1 block while Mac Belo tallied 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals. Bong Quinto and Reynel Hugnatan racked up 11 points apiece.
The Norman Black-mentored squad were forced to use their twice-to-beat advantage as they have to win the do-or-die match on Friday to move up to the next round.
NLEX 81 – Semerad 23, Oftana 12, Trollano 12, Cruz 10, Alas 9, Miranda 5, Soyud 4, Quinahan 4, Paniamogan 2, Porter 0, Ighalo 0, Ayonayon 0, McAloney 0, Galanza 0.
Meralco 80 – Maliksi 16, Belo 12, Quinto 11, Hugnatan 11, Caram 9, Newsome 7, Hodge 6, Almazan 6, Pasaol 2, Black 0, Jackson 0, Pinto 0, Jose 0, Baclao 0, Jamito 0.
Quarterscores: 20-26, 44-42, 63-64, 81-80.