JAVI Gomez de Liano turned expectations into reality by scoring a career-high 31 points and leading Terrafirma to a 113-112 win over Saturday in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
"They really wanted to win this game going to the big team, TNT (on Nov. 22)," said Terrafirma coach Johnedel Cardel, who could only heave a sigh of relief after NLEX import Thomas Robinson missed what should have been a game-tying free throw in the last 1.3 seconds of the game.
Thomas de Thaey, Stephen Holt, Isaac Go and Aldrech Ramos also made big contributions as the Dyip overcame top gunner Juami Tiongson being shackled and an early 16-point deficit to rack up their second straight win that gave them a 2-1 slate.
Before leaving the game for good due to a suspected groin pull with still 2:55 to go, De Thaey was also working on his best game yet with 23 points and 16 rebounds while Holt played the best game of his young PBA career by scoring 21 points.
Go was also a big contributor with a personal conference-best 17 points anchored on a 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, that helped Tiongson being limited to just 14 points that was nine below his average.
"It just shows that we wanted to win this game," said De Liano, who also had five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. "We're like a brand-new team na rin with new players and this time around we just wanted to change the narrative of our team."
"Sinuwerte kami, na-miss 'yung huli," added Cardel. "Credit to NLEX dahil malakas talaga iyung lineup nila. They have a good strong import and we're just lucky we got this win."
The loss foiled NLEX's bid to win back-to-back games as it dropped to a 1-2 record. But not after giving Terrafirma a big scare by fighting back from a 93-103 deficit and knotting the count at 111-all, still 1:08 left.
Ramos' putback of a Holt missed drive pushed the Dyip ahead anew, but the threat of the Road Warriors forging overtime for the second straight game loomed large when Robinson got fouled on a reverse try by Andreas Cahilig.
Sadly, however, Robinson sank the first charity but the second rimmed out with Kenmark Carino hauling down the game-sealing rebound.
Going for naught was Robinson's 40 points, nine rebounds and four assists, as well as the other Road Warriors' efforts led by Don Trollano's 19 markers.
The loss could also has additional cost as Kevin Alas, one of the heroes in NLEX's 117-113 OT decision over San Miguel Beer last Wednesday, left the game with still 11:11 left in the second period after a suspected knee injury. (NC)
Terrafirma113 - Gomez de Liano 31, De Thaey 23, Holt 21, Go 17, Tiongson 14, Ramos 4, Carino 3, Camson 0, Daquioag 0, Olivario 0, Alolino 0, Cahilig 0.
NLEX 112 - Robinson 40, Trollano 19, Rosales 13, Anthony 10, Miranda 10, Rodger 8, Herndon 7, Nieto 3, Semerad 2, Marcelo 0, Alas 0.
Quarters: 22-31, 51-53, 81-79, 113-112