Down in the doldrums of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup amid a five-game losing streak, NLEX came alive, got back on track, and stayed in the tightrope playoff race after a big win over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
The Road Warriors, with veteran wingman Don Trollano at the driver’s seat, escaped with a thrilling 120-117 win in overtime that injected some life on their slimmest of quarterfinal hopes with a 4-7 card entering the final week of the elimination round.
Trollano served as the spark the Road Warriors badly needed in the middle of a tough slump following a career-high tying performance against a mighty Ginebra side that was on a five-game win run on its own.
The former Adamson University stalwart fired all of his 26 big points in the second half — 20 in the third quarter, including seven triples to go along with six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block — for an all-around outing in a big win that atoned for the Road Warriors’ forgettable loss against Terrafirma, 114-124.
The tireless wingman shot 9-of-17 from the field in 43 minutes of action and thus, earning the honor as Cignal Play-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period 23 to 27 November.
Trollano was the unanimous choice over candidates Paul Lee of Magnolia and Jericho Cruz of San Miguel Beer for the weekly honor being deliberated upon by the group regularly covering the PBA beat.
“We were motivated coming from the terrible loss to Terrafirma. We cannot afford to lose,” said Trollano after NLEX fell prey to the Dyip, which ended their 25-game losing streak in almost a year.
Good thing for Trollano and the Road Warriors, they were able to redeem themselves by claiming the scalp of Ginebra, which coach Frankie Lim likened to Gilas Pilipinas owing to its star-studded cast.
“I think it was extra special for the players because they’re playing a big team and a very strong team like Ginebra,” Lim said, referring to their mammoth win against his former mentor Tim Cone.
“They are a strong team so we were very motivated to play. For me, this is a super team that is comparable to Gilas Pilipinas.”
Clinging at 10th place, NLEX now shifts its focus in another do-or-die game against fellow playoffs hopeful Meralco (5-6) in their crucial tussle on Wednesday.