PBA: NLEX pulls plug on Meralco’s playoff bid

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NLEX import Earl Clark. PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines-NLEX kept its slim quarterfinal chances alive with a stunning comeback in the fourth quarter and eliminated Meralco, 92-81, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Import Earl Clark sparked a huge rally from an 18-point halftime deficit with help from unlikely sources like Paul Varilla, Kris Rosales and Michael Miranda to register another huge win that may open the door for the Road Warriors to arrange a playoff for the No. 8 spot.

“I just made them realize that they were not playing at par,” coach Frankie Lim said after NLEX fell 57-39 at halftime. “But things got better in the third quarter. We started having stops that made our life easier.”

Clark dropped 40 points as NLEX finished the eliminations at 5-7, but will need a Rain or Shine loss to Magnolia on Friday in order for the two teams to meet for the right to get the final quarters seat.

Meralco fell to 4-7 with a second straight loss, its playoff chances over even if it gets a win over San Miguel Beer on Friday and ties Rain or Shine and NLEX due to an inferior quotient.

The Bolts looked like they would coast past the Bolts behind a big first half, only to allow the Road Warriors to turn things around.

What also made the rally remarkable was that NLEX did it with reserves like Varilla, Miranda and Rosales while usual reliables like Kevin Alas and Matt Nieto sat on the bench.

NLEX trailed 77-74 halfway in the fourth when it scored 14 unanswered to take the lead for good.

The Scores:

NLEX 92 — Clark 40, Trollano 16, Ganuelas-Rosser 10, Chua 6, Alas 6, Rosales 6, Varilla 5, Miranda 3, Nieto 0.

MERALCO 81 — McDaniels 22, Black 17, Maliksi 12, Quinto 8, Hodge 8, Banchero 7, Caram 5, Jose 2, Pascual 0.

Quarters: 23-30, 39-57, 64-71, 92-81.

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