NLEX took advantage of the absence of Ola Adeogun as it dealt Fruitas a 92-73 beating on Monday for its fifth straight victory in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the San Juan Arena.
The Road Warriors recorded their 22nd consecutive victory dating back to January of this year and remained undefeated in the conference.
Adeogun, the Nigerian center from San Beda, failed to suit up due to a sprained ankle he suffered in Fruitas' previous game against Blackwater Sports, leaving Fruitas with a gaping hole in the middle.
“I told (Fruitas) coach Nash (Racela) after the game that we were lucky because Ola didn’t play,” NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said.
Fernandez said NLEX went into the game with the mind-set that Adeogun would be there.
“We are really focused on this game. We don’t know if Ola will play but everyone is expecting that Ola will play,” he said.
Borgie Hermida led NLEX with 15 points while Nico Salva added 14.
Matthew Ganuelas, a member of the Smart Gilas team that won the Jones Cup, finally showed a glimpse of what he can bring to NLEX as he had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The win was especially important for the Road Warriors, who are prepping up for a big game on Thursday against fellow undefeated side Big Chill at the Ynares Sports Arena.
“I won’t take credit away for the boys because this is a prelude for our game against Big Chill,” said Fernandez.
NLEX already had a 44-29 lead at halftime with Salva helping the Road Warriors' cause with 10 points in the second period.
Ex-pro Pong Escobal debuted for the Shakers and scored a game-high 25 points, while Carlo Lastimosa chipped in 15.
NLEX (92) – Hermida 15, Salva 14, Ganuelas 13, Long 12, Sangalang 11, Camson 6, J. Pascual 5, Alas 4, Lanete 4, Escoto 3, Amer 3, R. Pascual 2, Sumalinog 0, Garcia 0.
Fruitas (73) – Escobal 25, Lastimosa 15, Belleza 9, Colina 6, Escueta 6, Terso 4, Dela Rosa 3, Caram 2, K. Pascual 2, Silungan 1, Mendoza 0, Koga 0, Paguia 0.
Quarterscores: 14-9, 44-29, 70-54, 92-73.