GOOD as advertised, Manny Harris debuted with flourish to help NLEX survive Columbian Dyip, 117-111, in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday at the Ynares Center, Antipolo.
Harris, who replaced Olu Ashaolu, tallied 45 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in a remarkable performance well complemented by JR Quiñahan and Keifer Ravena on offense.
Harris and Quiñahan were also there when the game was on the line, making the points that mattered most to steer the Road Warriors out of harm’s way in a game they dominated earlier but turned closer in the end.
Kaphri Alston tied the count for Columbian at 106-all with two freethrows, but Quiñahan was fouled by Jackson Corpuz while going for a triple in the ensuing play.
Quiñahan sank all three freethrows to give the lead back to NLEX, 109-106. Columbian sued for time but flopped in its next play, paving a way for Harris’ two more freethrows, 112-106.
Reden Celda kept Columbian within 115-111 with a triple, but Harris fished a foul in the return play as NLEX sealed the win, 117-111.
NLEX has now clinched its fifth win in six outings and went up to solo second spot behind sister team Talk ‘N Text. It was also NLEX’s second straight win following its 113-111 win over Barangay Ginebra last October 5 in Dubai.
The Dyip, who were coming off a 102-90 win over Blackwater last October 11, tumbled to its third loss in six games.
Harris readily made a strong statement as he knocked down a triple and came back to nail another basket as he keyed the Road Warriors’ early surge. Bong Galanza, Raul Soyud and Keifer Ravena also began hitting their strides before Harris completed a three-point play as NLEX stormed to a 16-2 lead early in the opening quarter.
The Dyip finally got their own rhythm, with Jakson Corpuz sinking back-to-back triples, and Rashawn McCarthy, Alston and Perez doing their own share for Columbian which closed in on 25-20. Kenneth Ighalo then scored a three-pointer to give NLEX a 28-20 lead at the end of the first period.
The Dyip even moved closer at 35-36 on Corpuz’s basket but quickly fell behind as the Road Warriors launched a searing attack capped by Asi Taulava’s triple, 52-39. Halftime score was 54-44, in favour of NLEX.
Meanwhile, NorthPort coach Pido Jarencio told new acquisition Christian Standhardinger to ‘stay positive’ in his new team in the pro-league.
“Kagabi (Tuesday night) pa lang kinausap ko na. Sabi ko kailangan ka namin dito at stay positive,” said Jarencio, referring to the Fil-German cager whom NorthPort acquired from San Miguel Beer in a blockbuster trade last Monday.
Standhardinger formally joined the NorthPort family by attending the team’s practice yesterday at the Greenmeadows gym where he was warmly welcomed by his new teammates.
In getting the SMB big man, NorthPort gave away fellow No. 1 pick Mo Tautuaa. The trade was approved by the PBA Commissioner’s Office.
Standhardinger, who won two championships in the five conferences he spent with the Beermen, will have his first game as a NorthPort on October 23, interestingly, against his former team.
NLEX (117) - Harris 45, Quinahan 15, Ravena 11, Galanza 9, Soyud 7, Ighalo 6, Taulava 6, Cruz 6, Miranda 5, Paniamogan 5, Erram 2, Baguio 0, Lao 0.
Columbian (111) - Perez 21, Corpuz 20, Alston 19, Tiongson 18, Celda 12, Calvo 7, Agovida 6, Cahilig 3, McCarthy 3, Faundo 2, Cabrera 0, Flores 0.
Quarterscores: 28-20, 54-44, 87-77, 117-111.