The NLEX Road Warriors finally picked up their first win of the 2019 Honda PBA Philippine Cup by beating Columbian Dyip 107-97 on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
NLEX used a 39-point first-quarter explosion to establish distance against the Dyip and made enough big shots in the end to keep them away. The Road Warriors never trailed in the contest, although their lead was winnowed down to just five from a high of 29.
JP Erram and Marion Magat, two new recruits for the Road Warriors, were named the Best Players of the Game with twin double-doubles. Erram had 23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks while Magat had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
"I just wanted to repay the trust of Coach Yeng [Guiao] and the trust of my teammates," said Magat. "I really wanted to stay on the floor even if my lip was bleeding because I want to prove something to myself. I'm so thankful that NLEX gave me an opportunity."
Showing the sense of urgency they needed after a winless start, the Road Warriors came out aggressively against Dyip. Kenneth Ighalo started them off with back-to-back 3-point shots which proved to be the theme of the entire first half.
NLEX started with a 10-2 run, forcing Columbian to an early timeout and they did not look back from there. The Road Warriors made 7-of-13 3-pointers to build a 39-16 lead after the first 12 minutes.
Ighalo led them in scoring with 13 points at the half with Erram posting 11. The NLEX bench also performed with Kevin Alas picking up 11 points in the first 24 minutes.
The Road Warriors had 12 three-point conversions as they shared the ball well. They picked up 20 first half assists while scoring a total of 25 field goals in the first half.
Dyip banked on the offense of Rashawn McCarthy off the bench with 12 points but they still found themselves down by 26 points, 68-42, heading into the break.
The Road Warriors had to endure anxious moments in the third where they were outscored 36 to 17 by the Dyip but Columbian simply did not have enough to finish strong.
"One or two players cannot win the game for us. We need to get contributions from everyone and that's why we got the win," said Erram. "Basketball is a team game. They did not get me me to carry this team. They got me because I can help out. The pressure on me is relieved when my teammates also play well."
After Erram and Magat, three more Road Warriors scored in double digits with Ighalo getting 19 and Alas contributing a total of 13 points off the bench.
The Dyip were led veteran Jay-R Reyes who tallied 17 points, anchored on four triples, and nine rebounds. Rookie CJ Perez had an all-around game of 16 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals in the loss.
-- JR Quinahan was not in uniform for the Road Warriors after suffering a sprain last Thursday. The good news though is that he'll be available for their next game.
-- Marion Magat was in the starting lineup for only the third time in his career.
NLEX vs Meralco Bolts on Feb. 2 at the Ynares Center, Antipolo
Columbian vs Barangay Ginebra on Feb. 2 at the Ynares Center, Antipolo