Photo by Jamie Velasco/Courtside PhilippinesUPDATES191
NLEX survives Phoenix to complete three-game sweep, emerge as pocket tourney champions
by Reynald Magallon, February 21, 2020 12:04pm
The NLEX Road Warriors were looking good so far with more than a week to go before the opening of the PBA's 45th Season.
NLEX survived a furious run from the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters, 104-97, to complete a three game sweep and emerge as the champions of the pre-season pocket tournament on Friday at the Upper Deck Gym
NLEX flexed their depth with at least five players scoring in double-figures. JR Quinahan led the way with 13 points while Raul Soyud contributed 12 markers. Philip Paniamogan,Bong Galanza, and Kevin Alas chipped in 13, 10 and 10 points respectively for NLEX who played without Gilas members Kiefer Ravena and Poy Erram.
The Road Warriors had a blistering opening frame which set the tone for convincing victory. The Road Warriors were actually trailing 12-10 with just about four minutes gone by the first quarter. NLEX then, spearheaded by Bong Galanza and Larry Fonacier went on to a 7-0 spurt to take the lead.
The Yeng Guiao mentored squad kept their feet on the gas pedal as another 7-0 run to end the opening frame gave them a double digit spread, 37-23.
Phoenix was able to keep in step in the next two quarters but NLEX managed to keep them at bay and still lead in twin digits, 87-73 heading into the final frame.
The Fuel Masters however refused to give up as they rallied in the final frame and even cut the lead down to just three, 100-97, with leass than a minute to go. Quinahan then nailed a jumper before Will McAloney got a steal and a layup to seal the deal for NLEX.
Jason Perkins paced Phoenix with 23 points while Matthew Wright added 20 points.
NLEX completed a sweep of their three games also beating San Miguel Beermen and Alaska Aces in the four-team mini tournament. The win should be a confidence booster for the Road Warriors who are looking to atone for their sudden exit last conference and make an impression in the 2020 Philippine cup which will start March 8.
Phoenix meanwhile finished with a 1-2 record only winning against SMB last Wednesday.
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