PBA: NLEX tops NorthPort amid ‘suspected’ COVID-19 case in bubble

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2020 06:15 PM | Updated as of Oct 21 2020 06:46 PM

NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena soars for a lay-up against the NorthPort Batang Pier. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) In the first PBA game held since the announcement of a first positive case inside the bubble, the NLEX Road Warriors secured a 102-88 victory over the NorthPort Batang Pier for their first win of the Philippine Cup, Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga.

Kiefer Ravena put up 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting on top of five rebounds and four assists, while Kevin Alas had 16 points, 10 boards, and six dimes in the victory. JR Quinahan added 17 points as NLEX shot 46.6% from the field.

It was the Road Warriors' first win of the conference after dropping their previous three assignments.

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said the win was a boost of confidence for his team, but admitted that they got a big break when NorthPort forward Sean Anthony missed the second half after what was reported to be a pulled hamstring.

"We did a good job defensively on Christian Standhardinger. We prepared for him, actually we know he's a key guy. If he plays well most likely they'll win," said Guiao.

"We're able to do that but we got a big break, with Sean Anthony not being able to go back sa game niya," he added.

Even with Anthony out and Standhardinger limited, the Batang Pier kept it close and trailed by just one point, 77-76, after a Sean Manganti bucket with over 10 minutes to play. They were down by just three points, 79-76, when Kevin Ferrer was called for an offensive foul and a technical foul in succession, giving NLEX a free throw and ball possession.

Ferrer was called for another foul in the ensuing play, and the Road Warriors pulled away from there. Ravena and Alas teamed up for an 11-0 run that gave them a 91-77 lead, and NorthPort never recovered.

NLEX led by as much as 20 points, 100-80, after two free throws by Ravena with less than three minutes left.

Guiao, who played a role in bringing the PBA to Clark, said their team was not overly concerned about the positive case in the bubble in the lead-up to the game.

"Sa akin I'm not really worried. I'm not really in a state of panic or whatever. These people know what they're doing. They can handle the situation," he explained.

Manganti, a rookie out of Adamson University, had 16 points for NorthPort, while Ferrer finished with 18. Standhardinger managed just seven points as he attempted only six field goals, though he also had 13 rebounds and five assists.

Anthony was scoreless in six and a half minutes before exiting the game. 

The Batang Pier fell to 0-4, half a game behind idle and winless TerraFirma Dyip (0-3).