New NLEX import lives up to billing

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    MANNY Harris proved to be as good as advertised, powering NLEX to a 117-111 victory over tenacious Columbian last night in his debut in the PBA Governors Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.

    The former NBA campaigner scattered 15 of his game-high 45 points in the fourth quarter, including nine in the stretch when the Road Warriors found themselves threatened by the Dyip who refused to give up despite falling behind by as many as 17 points.

    Kiefer Ravena scored only 11 points but came up with a crucial steal in the last 44 seconds that turned the tide in NLEX’s favor and enabled it to secure its second straight win and fifth in six games overall that put it just behind idle leader TNT’s 6-0 slate.

    Even JR Quinahan came up big in the endgame, lacing his 15 points with three charities that broke the Road Warriors off from the game’s last deadlock and gave them a 109-106 spread, only 67 seconds to go.

    “We expected a hard game against Columbian,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao. “We had a good lead in the first half, but we were kinda surprised we got that lead. Columbian is a different team now, but we played good defense in the first half.

    “In the second half, we were more relaxed and that allowed them to put up that rally.”

    Rookie sensation CJ Perez overcame some early shooting woes to wind up with a team-high 21 points while Khapri Alston also heated up late to notch 19 points, a game-best 17 rebounds and seven assists.

    Juami Tiongson, dealt by NLEX to Columbian before the conference started, also proved to be another thorn on the side of his former team with 18 points before fouling out.

    Still, all those could not completely make up for a bad shooting night for Rashawn McCarthy, usually good for almost 18 points an outing but scored on only three charities this time while missing all his 11 shots from the field.

    The loss was Columbian’s third in six games and mainly because of Harris, a former Michigan standout who has had stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.

    Inserted back into the game at the height of Columbian’s surge from a 79-93 deficit, Harris readily took charge with an initial six-point output that kept NLEX ahead 104-98.

    Alston’s four straight points capped an 8-2 run that enabled the Dyip to keep abreast of the Road Warriors at 106.

    After Quinahan’s charities and Ravena’s steal, Harris took over. He scored on a left-handed drive and completed a three-point play before canning four more freebies in the last 20 seconds that all but sealed the deal.