Mar 03, 2024

Terrafirma holds off NLEX, ties Blackwater for early lead

THE PBA's usual whipping boys are now sitting atop the standings.

Terrafirma made sure of that by proving steadier down the stretch to overcome NLEX, 99-95, Sunday and join idle Blackwater as PBA Philippine Cup co-leaders at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

For the second straight game Juami Tiongson led the Dyip in scoring with 21 points while Stephen Holt did his all-around bit with 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and as many steals. Javi Gomez de Liano came off the bench to deliver 18 points and five rebounds.

It was the pair of Isaac Go and JP Calvo who made sure all their teammates' efforts did not go to waste by canning pressure-packed free throws inside the last 59 seconds that helped keep the Road Warriors at bay and matched Blackwater's 2-0 start.

Calvo finished with 16 points.

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"We have two wins now, pero ang sabi ko sa kanila every game kailangan Manalo kami," said coach Johnedel Cardel after his team matched the number of wins it put up in the last Commissioner's Cup.

It marked the first time since the 2016 Governors Cup when Terrafirma, still known as Mahindra, got off to a 2-0 start. The Enforcer actually stretched their unbeaten run to four and went on to realize its only quarterfinals stint, the same goal the Dyip are now targeting.

"Hindi namin iniisip na may dalawang panalo kami kasi baka mag-relax sila," stated Cardel. "So every game kailangan nasa isip 1-0, 1-0, hanggang makuha namin ang goal namin, which is going to the quarterfinals."

Following up its 107-99 victory over Converge in their conference opener last Friday surely did not come easy for Terrafirma.

NLEX actually had a couple of chances to tie the game after Aldrech Ramos' jumper gave Terrafirma a 95-93 edge. First was Sean Anthony missing a follow-up attempt and fouling Go afterwards, enabling the latter to make it a four-point game.

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After Dave Marcelo scored on a short stab and Tiongson was whistled for an offensive foul, Robert Bolick lost the ball against Holt's defense, leading to Calvo being fouled and making the insurance freebies.

It is indeed a bitter loss for the Road Warriors, who led by as many as 13 points earlier, but could not stifle the Dyip charge that gained full momentum in the second half, especially when winning time came.

For naught went the 29-point, eight-assist effort of Bolick as well as the 15-point contribution of Jhan Nermal, 11 of those coming in the second quarter when NLEX roared to a 39-26 lead but could not hold on and thus dropped to a 1-1 slate.(NC)

The Scores:

TERRAFIRMA 99 - Tiongson 21, Gomez de Liano 18, Holt 17, Calvo 16, Alolino 9, Go 7, Ramos 3. Cahilig 0, Camson 0, Mina 0.'

NLEX 95 - Bolick 29, Nermal 15, Valdez 9, Miranda 7, Ular 7, Anthony 6, Semerad 6, Nieto 6, Marcelo 4, Pascual 4, Herndon 2.

QUARTERS: 21-26, 47-57, 70-73, 99-95.