NLEX Road Warriors 88 – Magnolia Hotshots 87, NLEX takes a 1-0 series lead
The NLEX Road Warriors got their first semifinals thanks to the clutch plays on both ends of the floor by Kiefer Ravena. They lead the Magnolia Hotshots 1-0.
Scoring was a valued commodity for both teams as they engaged each other in a tight, defensive match-up. The Road Warriors tried to pull away from Magnolia in the second quarter when they built a nine-point lead heading into the final minutes of the first half. But PJ Simon led a quick 7-0 run to cut the lead down to just five points heading into the break. The game stayed tight all the way to the dying minutes of the final period as both teams would only lead by as much as six points in the second half.
With less than 20 seconds left in the game and the Hotshots leading by one point, Ravena made a move to the basket. He used a screen and sucked in the defense all the way to the baseline. That left Alex Mallari open at the top of the key. Ravena found him with a tough kick-out pass for the go-ahead trey.
Magnolia still had a chance to take the lead but they missed and Ravena came away with the big defensive rebound. He was fouled and hit two clutch free throws to give the Road Warriors a four-point lead. Paul Lee came right back and buried a three-pointer to put the Hotshots within one. Jio Jalalon then stole the inbound pass giving the Hotshots one last chance to win but Ravena stole the ball from Rafi Reavis to secure the win for NLEX.
In the fourth quarter of the game, Marc Pingris was taken out of the game with an injury to his knee. He drove to the basket and when he planted his left leg to make a move, suddenly crumbled to the floor clutching his knee. Players from both teams approached him as he lay on the floor, screaming in pain. He had to be taken out of the arena in a stretcher and rushed to the hospital. There is still no news on the severity of his injury.