THE NLEX Road Warriors finished its campaign in the PBA Season 45 Philippine Cup with a win at the expense of the Terrafirma Dyip, 127-101, on Wednesday morning at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles, Pampanga.
NLEX entered the game knowing they were already denied a quarterfinals berth as Rain or Shine beat the TNT Tropang Giga, 80-74, on Tuesday night to complete the Top 8 cast.
Kiefer Ravena punched in 23 points, five boards and four dimes as the Road Warriors ended their stay in the bubble with a 5-6 record.
Veteran big man Asi Taulava showed his old deadly form with 11 points and four rebounds.
Raul Soyud chipped in 16 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Jericho Cruz had 12 points and six assists.
NLEX finished ninth overall, missing the Top 8 by a win or two.
The Road Warriors won four of their last five games, but the spirited run was not enough to make up for the team’s slow start, which pulled them deep in the team standings.
“The first half of our elimination round was disappointing. We’ve done well in the second half when we started winning,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
“In the bubble, adaptation and adjustment are very important. We didn’t make them early enough. That’s why I felt kinapos kami (we fell short). If we have two or three games more, I felt we’d still get better,” he added.
The game could be the last one for Taulava, who played 21 illustrious seasons in Asia’s first pro basketball league.
“I’m thankful to coach Yeng for giving me the opportunity to play; it was fun,” said Taulava, who’s the first player in the league to play in four different decades.
However, Taulava declined to confirm if this was his last PBA appearance.
“I don’t know. I’m not gonna make any comment on that,” he said.
The league’s leading scorer CJ Perez scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Dyip, who finished with only one win in 11 outings.