NLEX took control of the game in the payoff period after squandering an early lead in the first half to turn back undermanned GlobalPort, 109-99, in the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum yesterday.
The triumvirate of Aaron Fuller, Juami Tiongson and JR Quinahan did damage for the Road Warriors, lifting the squad to victory.
Fuller had a monster game with 33 points and 20 rebounds to lead the way but it was Tiongson who gave the Road Warriors the lift they needed. Tiongson hit four of his five triples in the fourth quarter on his way to 21 points.
Quinahan scattered 18 points as well for NLEX.
With this second straight win, NLEX, who is already through to the quarterfinals, improved to 7-2 to keep its spot in the top four.
On the other hand, the Batang Pier fell to 3-4 as this loss hurt its chances of making the top eight but it still has plenty of games left to chase a spot in the playoffs.
Behind Tiongson’s three triples to start the fourth, NLEX was able to wrestle control once again, taking an 87-80 advantage with under 10 minutes remaining.
From their, NLEX was steady the rest of the way, keeping GlobalPort at bay before finally putting the game away.
The Road Warriors had a blazing start, charging out of the gates. They uncorked a booming 22-5 surge in the first six minutes of play to grasp early control before settling for a 33-22 cushion at the end of one.
Down but not rattled, the Batang Pier slowly but surely clawed its way back in the second, outscoring the Road Warriors 32-29, to suddenly cut NLEX’s lead to only two, 56-54, at the half, making it anyone’s game heading the second half.
Eventually, GlobalPort got its first lead of the game from an undergoal stab of Sean Anthony at the 6:44 mark of the third canto, 63-62.
NLEX stood its ground before owning the fourth to take the game.
The Batang Pier missed the services of star Stanley Pringle as he suddenly took an immediate leave of absence from the team to attend to his ailing father who suffered a stroke in the United States.
Veteran guard Mac Cardona, who has been away for more than a year in the league dealing with his publicized off court issues, was back in the league having signed up with GlobalPort just a day before this tiff.
He played over eight minutes and tallied four points.
Rob Celiz and Paolo Hubalde, two more new signings of GlobalPort, made their PBA return as well, playing briefly.
Meanwhile, Barangay Ginebra (5-1) is currently gunning for sole possession of tournament lead as it is figuring in a tight battle against rival Star (4-1) as of this report.
More importantly for the surging Gin Kings, they can gain the second berth in the quarterfinals with a sixth straight victory.