NLEX stopped the unbeaten start of sister TNT at five games after pulling off a commotion-marred 109-98 victory in the PBA Philippine Cup Thursday night at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Kevin Alas and Jericho Cruz took charge as the Road Warriors won for just the second time in seven matches while putting on dash on the Tropang Giga’s clean slate inside the bubble known as Smart Clark Giga City.
TNT was hoping to virtually secure the first quarterfinals berth with a sixth win but NLEX made sure those plans won’t materialize.
“I think this is the proudest I am since we came into the bubble,” said Road Warriors coach Yeng Guiao. “(TNT) has been playing well the past three weeks and there’s bound to be a bad night for them. We just caught them on their bad night.”
Alas bucked a bloody nose that came after colliding on Jayson Castro’s right shoulder at the end of the second quarter to produce 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting while Cruz added 19 points on five three-pointers.
Tensions boiled twice in the second half, first when TNT’s Ray Parks Jr. crashed hard on the floor after an undercut by NLEX rookie Will McAloney, who received a Flagrant Foul 1 with 4:54 to go in the third quarter.
Upset over the incident, TNT’s Jay Washington tried to approach the NLEX bench, prompting Guiao to respond by shouting choice words at the veteran forward near midcourt before the two were separated by cooler heads.
Guiao and Washington each got a technical for verbal altercation.
Parks once again got into another incident late when he and NLEX’s JR Quinahan exchanged hits in the head before the two fell down at the stanchion. Parks and Quinahan were slapped with Flagrant 1s.
Castro finished with 27 points, five rebounds and eight assists for the Tropang Giga who still lead standings despite the defeat.
Poy Erram, facing NLEX for the first time since being traded to TNT last February, had nine points and three rebounds in almost 28 minutes.
NLEX 109 — Alas 24, Cruz 19, Ravena 16, Miranda 8, Ayonayon 8, Quinahan 8, Semerad 7, Soyud 6, McAloney 6, Varilla 5, Porter 2, Ighalo 0.
TNT 98 — Castro 27, Pogoy 16, Parks 15, Enciso 11, Rosario 11, Erram 9, Reyes 7, De Leon 2, Semerad 0, Washington 0.
Quarters: 24-32, 53-48, 75-67, 109-98.