With 6 games left on the schedule, and most teams only having a game or 2 left in their schedule, the standing is pretty much set. The last 3 spots, held by Mahindra, Meralco and NLEX, are guaranteed not to be in the playoffs, making their games moot (at least in the context of this conference). That didn’t stop both teams from playing hard.
NLEX showed their grit on the glass, where they dominated the game, finishing with an ORB% of 39 percent, vs the 31 percent of KIA and finished the game with 20 2nd chance points, vs KIA’s 13. It was Guinto and Camson, NLEX’s bruising bigs, who gave NLEX an early 27-22 lead.
But Kia’s 2 shot creators, Alex Mallari and LA Revilla, started doing basketball things. In typical Mahindra fashion, it was a simple offense of drive-and-kick. Depending on the whims of those two, they’d either go iso or call one of their bigs to screen for them. Alex Mallari, in particular, was on his A-game today. He was making the right reads, making the right plays and, more importantly, making baskets. Alex Mallari finished the game with a near-triple double, finishing one assist shy of a 30-10-9 line (66.3 TS percent).
Despite the score reading 106-96, a 10-point win, the game was close all through out the game. Kia built a lead behind their aggressive drive-and-kick game clicking. Those 9 assists by Alex Mallari woefully under count the impact he had on this game. It was probably Alex Mallari’s best game to date and a good way to end the conference on a high note.
Mallari led all scorers with 30, with his teammate, Reden Celda finishing 2nd with 18. Eric Camson was the leading scorer for NLEX with 17.