NLEX rolled to its second straight victory after thwarting NorthPort, 123-107, in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The Road Warriors raced off to a 34-19 start, sputtered in the second period, before regaining steam in the third on the way to the victory which spoiled a dazzling debut for NorthPort import Rashad Woods. Olu Ashaolu led NLEX's balanced attack with 27 points, including 15 in the third period where the Road Warriors built a sizable lead.
Behind the high-octane import, who also had 13 rebounds and three assists, NLEX led by as much as 17 points in the third period which it preserved the rest of the way.
Ashaolu got plenty of help from the locals. Mac Tallo and Larry Fonacier finished with 14 points each, JR Quinahan scored 12, Kenneth Ighalo had 11, while Juami Tiongson each dropped 10.
When Ashaolu returned to the bench late in the third quarter, the locals picked up where he left off. In one transition play, Cyrus Baguio faked Mo Tautuaa, then lurched forward for a layup against a smaller Nico Elorde to give NLEX a 95-78 edge with 1:17 remaining in the said period.
The Batang Pier were able to get to within nine on Woods' jumper, 104-95 in the fourth period, but Kenneth Ighalo was quick to restore order for NLEX with back-to-back corner 3-pointers.
A few possessions later, Tiongson also uncorked two straight 3s to put the score out of reach,121-102 entering the final two minutes of the match.
There was no stopping NLEX's rampage from there. Playing without star Stanley Pringle, the Batang Pier simply couldn't find their groove and went on a tailspin.
Woods paced the Batang Pier with a smashing performance that came with 42 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals.
Mo Tautuaa had a good start but went cold in the second half. He wound up with 20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and a steal. Paolo Taha and Jonathan Grey added 15 and 13 markers, respectively.
NLEX 123 - Ashaolu 27, Fonacier 14, Tallo 14, Quinahan 12, Ighalo 11, Mallari 10, Tiongson 10, Baguio 8, Paniamogan 5, Marcelo 4, Miranda 4, Galanza 4,.
NorthPort 107 - Woods 42, Tautuaa 20, Taha 15, Grey 13, Javelona 8, Teng 5, Guinto 3, Elorde 1, Espinas 0, Gabayni 0.
Quarterscores: 34-19, 61-58, 94-78, 123-107
Pringle is playing for the Philippines in the ongoing Asian Games in Indonesia.
Ashaolu played through a partial tear in his right knee but still delivered for the Road Warriors. Asked if he can play in their next match, he said, "I'm gonna be there."
Jeric Teng suffered a left calf muscle strain midway through the third period. NorthPort doctors have yet to determine the extent of the injury. Sean Anthony, meanwhile, is still recovering from a left calf injury.
Cyrus Baguio turned 38 years old on Sunday.
NLEX - vs Magnolia on Agustu 22 at Smart Araneta Coliseum
NorthPort - vs Phoenix on August 26 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum