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Calvin Oftana

Rookie Calvin Oftana saves day for NLEX, sends quarterfinal showdown with Meralco to do-or-die

Rookie forward Calvin Oftana showed veteran chops beyond his years as he sank the game-winning layup with 6.1 seconds remaining to lift the NLEX Road Warriors to a thrilling 81-80 win over the second-seeded Meralco Bolts in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga on Wednesday afternoon.

Down one, Oftana cut hard to the basket and received a pinpoint inbound pass from Jericho Cruz, and made the game-winning basket. With no timeouts remaining, Meralco was forced to rush up the floor with Cliff Hodge attempting a long three-pointer that got deflected as the final buzzer sounded.

“The play was intended for him,” said a victorious NLEX coach Yeng Guiao after the game. “It went exactly as we planned it. But of course, sometimes, it happens, sometimes, it doesn’t happen for you. But we are really lucky that it happened this time.”

Anthony Semerad
Anthony Semerad / PBA

Oftana finished with a near double-double of 12 points and nine boards to go with five assists, two steals, and a block. Anthony Semerad led NLEX in scoring with 23 points, spiked by five three-pointers. Don Trollano also played a key role in preserving NLEX’s season as he had 12 points and eight boards.

Meralco had the inside track on the victory that would have propelled them to the semifinal round as they took an 80-79 lead after the ageless Reynel Hugnatan made a layup with 55.8 seconds to go. The Bolts had a shot at extending the lead but Mac Belo missed two freebies with 8.6 ticks remaining in the game.

Allein Maliksi led Meralco with 16 points while Belo added 12 points.

The Scores:

NLEX (81) – Semerad 23, Oftana 12, Trollano 12, Cruz 10, Alas 9, Miranda 5, Soyud 4, Quinahan 4, Paniamogan 2, Ighalo 0.

Meralco (80) – Maliksi 16, Belo 12, Quinto 11, Hugnatan 11, Caram 9, Newsome 7, Hodge 6, Almazan 6, Pasaol 2, Pinto 0, Baclao 0.

Quarterscores: 20-26; 44-42; 63-64; 81-80.

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