THE NLEX Road Warriors held on by the skin of their teeth, warding off Jose Rizal University, 91-87, on Tuesday and extending their win streak to 20 in the PBA D-League at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Ian Sangalang stole Kenneth Ighalo’s inbound pass, leading to a three-point play by Ronald Pascual for an 89-87 lead with 10.7 seconds to play. That completed their comeback from seven points down in the final two minutes of the game.
Ighalo’s pass in the ensuing offensive possession for the Heavy Bombers sailed high for a turnover and RR Garcia sealed the win with two free throws with 4.9 seconds left.
NLEX has not lost since January when the Road Warriors bowed to Big Chill in Game One of the 2011-2012 Aspirants Cup.
The Road Warriors appeared headed for only their second loss of 2012 when the Heavy Bombers looked set to pull off a huge upset with a 15-0 run to start the fourth period, 78-67.
A three-point play by Ighalo put JRU ahead, 78-85, with the Heavy Bombers one minute and 58 seconds away from giving Vergel Meneses his first victory in the PBA D-League.
The Road Warriors, however, used their pressure defense with Garcia cutting JRU’s lead to a point, 86-87. Then, Ighalo’s pass to Khasim Mirza was intercepted by Sangalang, leading to the game-winner.
“Probably, it’s a lesson for all of us,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “First lesson for me is the fact that I rotated the playing time of the players. I didn’t play the guys that I feel really wanted to win. I’m just happy to get this victory.”
Jake Pascual had 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Sangalang added 15 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Garcia added 10.
Rocky Acidre had 21 points while Mirza had 19 points in a losing effort for the Heavy Bombers, who dipped to 0-2 win-loss. JRU nearly beat another title contender in Big Chill in its first game, 77-76.
NLEX (91) – J. Pascual 17, Sangalang 15, Garcia 10, R. Pascual 9, Lanete 9, Alas 8, Camson 7, Salva 6, Long 4, Sumalinog 4, Hermida 2, Amer 0, Ganuelas 0.
JRU (87) – Acidre 21, Mirza 19, Maiquez 14, Ighalo 11, Pinto 8, Miranda 6, Caperal 4, Villarias 2, Apinan 2, Lopez 0, Almario 0.
Quarterscores: 26-17; 45-33; 67-63; 91-87.