April 23, 2024

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Terrafirma grabs PBA Philippine Cup lead after beating NLEX, 99-95

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LEADERBOARD. Terrafirma’s 99-95 victory over NLEX at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on March 3, 2024, catapults the team atop the PBA Philippine Cup standings alongside Blackwater at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on March 3, 2024. PBA PHOTO

Terrafirma asserted its dominance to clinch a hard-fought 99-95 victory over NLEX, catapulting the team to the top of the PBA Philippine Cup standings alongside Blackwater. 

For a franchise that has often been considered the league’s underdog, Terrafirma’s early success marks a significant shift in their narrative.

Juami Tiongson, the hero from their previous game, once again led the Dyip in scoring with an impressive 21 points. 

Stephen Holt showcased his versatility, contributing 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals, while Javi Gomez de Liano came off the bench to make a substantial impact with 18 points and five rebounds.

However, it was the crucial efforts of Isaac Go and JP Calvo at the free-throw line in the final minute that ultimately secured the victory for Terrafirma. 

Calvo finished with 16 points, providing essential stability in the game’s dying moments. The win not only matched Blackwater’s 2-0 start but also marked Terrafirma’s best opening performance since the 2016 Governors Cup when they were known as Mahindra.

Coach Johnedel Cardel emphasized the importance of maintaining focus and not getting complacent despite the early success. He said that even with their two consecutive wins, he told his players they must win each game. 

Terrafirma’s goal is clear – a quarterfinal stint, a feat achieved by the franchise back in 2016.

While Terrafirma faced a 13-point deficit earlier in the game, they showcased resilience and determination, mounting a powerful comeback in the second half. 

The Road Warriors had their chances, with Aldrech Ramos providing Terrafirma a narrow 95-93 edge. NLEX had opportunities to tie the game but missed follow-up attempts and turnovers cost them dearly.

Despite Robert Bolick’s outstanding 29-point, eight-assist performance, and Jhan Nermal’s 15-point contribution, NLEX couldn’t stifle Terrafirma’s momentum in the crucial moments. 

The Road Warriors, having led by as much as 13 points, dropped to a 1-1 slate, leaving them with a bitter taste after a game they could not close out.

Terrafirma’s unexpected rise to the top adds a layer of excitement and unpredictability to the PBA Philippine Cup. As they aim for a quarterfinal berth, the Dyip will carry the momentum from their impressive start, proving that they are no longer content with being the league’s usual whipping boys.

The boxscores:

Terrafirma 99 – Tiongson 21, Gomez de Liano 18, Holt 17, Calvo 16, Alolino 9, Go 7, Ramos 3. Cahilig 0, Camson 0, Mina 0.’

NLEX 95 – Bolick 29, Nermal 15, Valdez 9, Miranda 7, Ular 7, Anthony 6, Semerad 6, Nieto 6, Marcelo 4, Pascual 4, Herndon 2.

Quarterscores: 21-26, 47-57, 70-73, 99-95.

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