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NLEX secures QF slot at SMB’s expense

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Cubao, Quezon City – The NLEX Road Warriors became the first team to clinch a quarterfinal berth by giving the San Miguel Beermen a 103-100 loss at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Alex Cabagnot came out firing as he initiated first blood with 10 points in the opening quarter. However, Aaron Fuller bullied the Beermen frontcourt with his 9 points and 7 boards to push his team with an early lead heading the second quarter.

NLEX tried to pull away with the help of JR Quinahan who had 9 points all in the second quarter as his team increased their lead to 9 points to end the first half.

In the third quarter, SMB rallied behind Marcio Lassiter, Wendell McKines and Arwind Santos with each player scoring 8 points as their team recaptured the lead entering the final period.

The game went tight as both teams were deadlocked at 95-all in the last two-minute mark. Larry Fonacier channeled his clutch gene by sinking a huge three-point bomb.

McKines countered with a basket of his own but Fonacier buried another three-point dagger with 23.9 seconds left as NLEX held on for the win.

Aaron Fuller was huge for NLEX with his 26 points and 22 rebounds while JR Quinahan provided the added muscle with a double-double of his own with 17 points and 10 boards. Fonacier finished the game with 16 points while shooting 4/5 from the three-point arc.

San Miguel’s McKines had a notable performance with 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists as the Beermen fall to 3-2.

NLEX will battle GlobalPort Batang Pier net on September 3, Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. On the other hand, the San Miguel Beermen will try to bounce back against the win-less Alaska Aces on September 2, Saturday in Angeles city.

The scores:

NLEX 103 – Fuller 26, Quiñahan 17, Fonacier 16, Mallari 10, Tiongson 8, Alas 7, Soyud 7, Baguio 5, J. Villanueva 3, Lastimosa 2, Al-Hussaini 2, Taulava 0.

SAN MIGUEL 100 – McKines 28, Lassiter 19, Santos 19, Cabagnot 19, Fajardo 6, Ross 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Espinas 2, Heruela 1, Tubid 0.

Quarterscores: 25-24, 48-39, 68-70, 103-100.

By Ernest Leo Hernandez