BONG Galanza caught fire early as he guided NLEX to a 104-97 win over Phoenix Pulse Friday in the Phoenix Super Basketball Tournament Friday at Upper Deck Gym in Pasig.
The sweet-shooting guard scored all of his 10 points in the opening canto that triggered the Road Warriors' sizzling 37-23 start.
That proved to be the cushion NLEX needed as it inflated the lead to as many as 21 points, yet only had to fend off a late Phoenix rally powered by Jorey Napoles that sliced the final winning margin to just seven points.
"I like the way we played with intensity especially the first three quarters. We got a good lead, but we relaxed in the latter part of the fourth quarter, so to me that's a bad sign. But we played really well for three-and-a-half quarters, so konti na lang. That's something I think we can fix in the next few weeks," said coach Yeng Guiao.
JR Quinahan led the balanced Road Warriors attack with 15 points, four assists, and three rebounds as the team weathered the absence of Kiefer Ravena, who is with Gilas Pilipinas, and Jericho Cruz, who is with Guam, both for the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.
Philip Paniamogan also unfurled 13 points on a 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, alongside seven boards and three assists off the bench.
Raul Soyud also impressed with his 12 points and six rebounds, while Kevin Alas also had eight of his 10 points in the opening canto.
NLEX swept the three-game pocket tournament after earlier topping San Miguel, 103-97 on Monday and Alaska, 104-89 on Wednesday.
That's despite the Poy Erram trade still in limbo, awaiting the approval of the Office of the Commissioner.
Guiao, though, remains hesitant to put too much weight in these positive results.
"We're happy with the results, pero sana totoo. Kaya lang it's an exhibition game," the fiery mentor rued.
Jason Perkins carried Phoenix in the losing cause with 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Napoles fired 20 points, 10 coming in the payoff period, as Matthew Wright shot 3-of-9 from distance to finish with 20 points, five assists, and three boards.
NLEX 104 -- Quinahan 15, Paniamogan 13, Soyud 12, Alas 10, Galanza 10, Ighalo 9, Miranda 8, McAloney 8, Fonacier 7, Varilla 6, Porter 4, Baguio 2, Lao 0, Paredes 0.
PHOENIX 97 -- Perkins 23, Wright 20, Napoles 20, Heruela 11, Jazul 8, Chua 7, Potts 4, Rios 2, Reyes 2, Tansingco 0, Marcelino 0.
Quarters: 37-23, 59-43, 87-73, 104-97.