Cameron Clark came up with the clutch plays to save the day for NLEX as the Road Warriors narrowly avoided getting swept in the semifinal round of the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup by taking Game 3, 86-85, Sunday night at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
The 30-year old Clark, who came in at the start of the playoffs as replacement for KJ McDaniels who had to fly back home as his wife was about to give birth, intercepted a pass by LA Tenorio and then completed a three-point play off Justin Brownlee to give the Yeng Guioa-mentored squad a 3-point edge with only 7.3 ticks left on the game clock.
The former FIBA Europe Cup scoring champion finished with with team-highs of 21 points, 17 rebounds and 5 steals to go with 4 assists in 41 minutes of play.
“Actually, sabi ko lang sa mga players namin, ‘Let’s just save ourselves the embarrassment of being swept. Siguro isang panalo, hindi na tayo masyadong nakakahiya,” said NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao during the post-game press conference.
“Pero sabi ko rin, ‘Kapag nanalo tayo, baka mamaya mag-iba yung complexion ng series, magka-chance ulit tayo.’ And they proved that we can beat Ginebra,” he added.
Kevin Alas led the NLEX locals with 15 points while new recruit Justin Chua added 13. Raul Soyud and Philip Paniamogan chipped in 11 and 9 markers, respectively.
Justin Brownlee paced the defending champions with 27 points in addition to 12 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 blocks and an assist. The former Best Import awardee, however, can only convert on 3-of-9 attempts from long distance and 2-of-7 from the 15-foot line.
Christian Standhardinger had a solid double-double of 16 points and 16 boards while Scottie Thompson contributed 13 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists a steal and a block in 42 minutes of action. The do-it-all guard, however, committed a game-high 6 turnovers. LA Tenorio added 10 while Arvin Tolentino chipped in 9.
The Gin Kings will have another chance to advance to the Finals of the season-ending conference when the two sides clash anew in Game 4 which is scheduled on Wednesday, March 30, 3:00pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.