Kevin Alas returned from sickbay and led back-to-the-wall NLEX past Magnolia, 90-77, in Game 2 of the two team’s best-of-three quarterfinals series in the PBA Season 47 Philippine Cup, Friday in the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
The 30-year old Alas, who missed the squad’s last 3 games due to a hamstring injury plus health and safety protocols, erupted for a career-high 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting with 6-of-11 coming from beyond the arc to go with 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in 35 minutes of playing time.
The Road Warriors led by as much as 26 points on the way to their first victory in the All-Filipino Cup playoffs which is fast shaping up to be a corporate battle between the league’s SMC and MVP groups. San Miguel and TNT are already in the semifinals while Meralco and Brgy. Ginebra are battling it out for the right to face the top-seeded Beermen in the next round.
“Malaking bagay din we have Kevin and Kris back,” said NLEX had coach Yeng Guiao on the return of guards Alas and Rosales.
“Madalas mangyari kapag kalaban namin ‘yung Magnolia, nagli-lead kami tapos mauubos yung lead, pine-press kami, nagtu-turnover kami, nagpa-panic. Pero ngayon, mas maganda yung reaction namin to the pressure,” he added.
Calvin Abueva paced the Hotshots with 20 points on an efficient 8-of-11 shooting from the 2-point area. ‘The Beast’ also tallied 7 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal in one of his better performances in the conference.
Paul Lee finished with 12 points – all from three-point country while Aris Dionisio and Ian Sangalang chipped in 11 and 10 markers, respectively.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, with the exception of James Laput, used all of his players with 10 contributing 2 points or more.