ANTIPOLO—NLEX continued its winning ways by upending debuting NorthPort, 123-107, in the first game of Sunday action of the 2018 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Center.
Olu Ashaolu and Mac Tallo got plenty of help from their teammates as the Road Warriors chalked up its second straight victory despite still missing head mentor Yeng Guiao.
Ashaolu led six other Road Warriors in double figures with 27 points, including 13 from a searing third-quarter charge that turned a slim 61-58 halftime lead to a 98-74 cushion.
The Canadian-Nigerian player, plating despite a 70 percent tear on his patellar tendon, also had 13 rebounds and three assists.
Tallo and Larry Foancier both scored 14, while JR Quiñahan (12), Kenneth Ighalo (11), Juami Tiongson, and Alex Mallari (both 10) also dished out double-digit scores for NLEX.
"It's a nice start. But we're not fooling ourselves. We won the first game and everyone was feeling really good,” said NLEX stand-in coach Jojo Lastimosa.
“They responded well to our challenges and in order for us to win it will need a collective effort from all of us.”
NorthPort battled back in the fourth quarter, coming to within 95-104 on a Rashad Woods bucket with 4:53 left. But Ighalo responded with back-to-back triples for a 110-95 buffer.
Ashalou, Quiñahan and Tiongson then doused cold water on the Batang Pier with 13 points for the final count.
Woods had an impressive PBA debut with a game-high 42 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals for NorthPort, which played minus Stanley Pringle and Sean Anthony.
Mo Tautuaa had 20 markers and 12 boards, while Paolo Taha and Jonathan Grey had 15 and 13, respectively.
The Road Warriors will parade a new import as it faces the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok on Wednesday.
NLEX 123 - Ashaolu 27, Fonacier 14, Tallo 14, Quinahan 12, Ighalo 11, Mallari 10, Tiongson 10, Baguio 8, Paniamogan 5, Marcelo 4, Miranda 4, Galanza 4.
NorthPort 107 - Woods 42, Tautuaa 20, Taha 15, Grey 13, Javelona 8, Teng 5, Guinto 3, Elorde 1, Espinas 0, Gabayni 0.
Quarterscores: 34-19, 61-58, 94-78, 123-107.