NLEX shot the lights out behind an unheralded group of players to whack Blackwater, 122-101, on Sunday night and stay in the hunt for playoff berths in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Philip Paniamogan scored a career-high 25 points behind five three-pointers, Bong Galanza added 18 points all on six treys while Kenneth Ighalo added another five treys as NLEX posted back-to-back wins for a 4-5 (win-loss) card.
In all, the Road Warriors hit a total of 21 three-pointers in a game where they led by as much as 29 points as Blackwater dropped out of quarterfinal contention following its eighth loss in 10 games.
“We’ve been looking forward to stringing up some wins. It’s a good development for us, trying to stay alive and survive the next cut,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
The injury-plagued Road Warriors moved inside the magic circle of eight that will make the playoffs, but can't take it easy since they have Barangay Ginebra and Magnolia for their final two games.
Guiao is well aware there is no room for error for NLEX.
“I think this will bring us up to seventh place which will be a little bit safe, but we still have two games left so worried kami na may chance pa na ma-cut kami,” said the concurrent national coach.
The Road Warriors hit five three-pointers right in the first half including two straight from Galanza to give his team a 37-29 lead on their way to a 57-42 halftime advantage.
Paniamogan, Galanza, and Ighalo poured it on in the second half.
Poy Erram had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first game against his former team while Ighalo scored 17 points in the contest. Also contributing was Juami Tiongson, who had 13 points and 11 assists.
Allein Maliksi had 20 points in a losing cause for Blackwater, which bowed out of contention with a 2-8 card.
NLEX 122 – Paniamogan 25, Erram 20, Galanza 18, Ighalo 17, Tiongson 13, Quinahan 8, Porter 6, Tallo 5, Lao 4, Soyud 4, Baguio 2, Magat 0, Taulava 0, Varilla 0.
Blackwater 101 – Maliksi 20, DiGregorio 17, Tratter 16, Desiderio 12, Belo 11, Cortez 6, Banal 6, Dario 6, Sumang 5, Jose 2, Sena 0, Al-Hussaini 0, Javier 0.
Quarters: 23-22; 57-42; 89-72; 122-101.