ASI Taulava banged in 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as NLEX debuted with a 101-96 come-from-behind victory over hardluck GlobalPort in the PBA Philippine Cup on Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Taulava, last season's Comeback Player and Mythical Team member, pounced on GlobalPort's shorter frontline as he attacked the basket at every goven opportunity.
His three-point play off Noy Baclao's foul gave NLEX the lead for good, 94-92, 1:42 left in the game.
Also playing a big role the last two minutes for NLEX was Nino Canaleta, who buried back-to-back three-pointers that gave the Road Warriors the much-needed cushion in the end.
"The coaches talked about our technical problem, especially sa pick and roll ng small guys ng GlobalPort," said NLEX assistant coach Adonis Tierra, who handled the coaching chores for the time being.
Head coach Boyet Fernandez sat behind the team's bench but won't call the shots until after the NCAA season where he is on the verge of leading San Beda to a fifth successive title.
GlobalPort, picked as a darkhorse in the season-opening tournament, led by as much as 10 points in the third period as it drew big offensive games from the backcourt trio of Terrence Romeo, Alex Cabagnot, and Stanley Pringle who combined for 70 points.
Romeo exploded for 33 points, Cabagnot added 23 while Pringle finished with 14 in his PBA debut after a sterling two-season stint with the Indonesia Warriors in the ABL.