The already-eliminated NLEX Road Warriors played spoiler’s role in their final Oppo PBA Commissioner’s game, hanging on to a 116-114 victory over playoff hopeful Phoenix Fuel Masters on Saturday at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Despite playing in a non-bearing game, the Road Warriors (2-9), who lost their first nine games, still went all out to cap off their campaign with two straight victories and head into the Governors’ Cup with a morale-boosting win streak.
The result however was a big blow to the playoff hopes of Phoenix (4-7) which slid to ninth place. With no games left on their elimination round schedule, the Fuel Masters will need Alaska (4-5) or GlobalPort (4-6) to not reach five wins and prevail in the quotient game in case a quadruple-tie including Mahindra (3-7) occurs.
Phoenix can also figure in a playoff for the eighth spot depending on how the quotients of the aforementioned teams will play out.
Alex Mallari finished the game with 22 points, nine boards and five assists while Wayne Chism added 20 points, 13 rebounds and five dimes for NLEX which almost squandered a 23-point lead.
NLEX’s 15-4 start helped the bottom-placed squad establish a 74-51 cushion with 6:29 left in the third quarter.
But behind Matthew Wright, who erupted for career-high 42 points, Phoenix came charging with a 25-5 blast to trim NLEX’s lead to just three, 79-76, in just five minutes.
NLEX regained control after seizing a 93-83 lead early in the fourth quarter. Phoenix was able to inch closer down the stretch but the time wasn’t enough to complete a comeback.