MACAU -- A rejuvenated NLEX squad leaned on a strong second half surge to knock off the physical Xinjiang Guangui Flying Tigers, 88-78, and book a seat in the crossover semifinals of the 2018 Asia League Summer Super 8 on Thursday here at the Macao East Asian Games Dome.
Mark Tallo, Kenneth Ighalo and big man JR Quinahan presided over the Road Warriors' spirited effort in the last two quarters, defying the taller Chinese's defense with baskets from inside and the three-point zone.
NLEX trailed by as many as 17 points, 45-28, during the first half.
But the wards of coach Yeng Guiao erupted for 55 points in the last two quarters, while limiting the Flying Tigers to just 39 en route to sealing a spot in the semis set to start this Saturday.
NLEX, which finished the group stage play with a 2-1 card, will face the no. 1 seed from Group B. The ETLand Elephants, the South Korean squad, finished at the top of Group B with their immaculate 3-0 card.
Powerhouse Guangzhou Long Lions could be NLEX's potential semifinal opponent due to its 2-0 record. The Long Lions are still playing the Seoul Samsung Thunders (1-1) in the nightcap at 9 p.m.
Quinahan erupted for 14 of his game-high 18 points to lead the Road Warriors, including 4-of-5 shooting from three-point zone. The Cebuano big man added five rebounds and four assists.
Ighalo added 17, while Tallo scored all 12 of his points in the second half, on top of eight assists, six rebounds and a steal.
Sun Tonglin led Xinjiang (1-2) with 16 points and seven assists, while Li Yunan added 13. But the Chinese ball club will join the Formosa Dreamers on the wayside with the loss.
NLEX 88 - Quinahan 18, Ighalo 17, Tallo 12, Rios 8, Taulava 8, Miranda 6, Monfort 5, Soyud 5, Marcelo 4, Buenafe 3, Tiongson 2, Baguio 0.
XINJIANG 78 - Sun 16, Liu 13, Tang 11, Wang 11, Jiang 10, Deng 8, Hou 4, Pai 3, Han 2.
Quarters: 20-20, 33-49, 64-59, 88-78.